Morocco door

Whether you are an art history scholar or a casual observer who appreciates something that pleases the eye, Morocco abounds with awe-inspiring art such as tile mosaics, intricately carved handicrafts, woven carpets and more. While you can encounter artistic displays throughout the country’s cities and villages, art museums often tell a story more clearly than publicly placed mantles or a paragraph in a guidebook. Below are a few of the art museums in which the exhibits tell a story.

Tangier: Museum of Moroccan Arts

A 17th-century former palace, located in the Medina of Tangier, this museum gives visitors a sense of how princes lived. The royalty of that time surrounded themselves with colorful marble and glass mosaics, with painted wooden ceilings overhead. Beyond the structural adornments, the museum organizes displays in separate rooms for the country’s major regions. For instance, the Fez room features ancient pottery, calligraphic manuscripts and dyed silks.

Fez: Dar Batha Museum

The elaborate collections on display in this Hispanic-Moorish 19th-century palace in Fez could easily occupy a detailed viewer for most of the day. Large display cases protect historic pieces and line the long corridor-like rooms that surround the courtyard. One of the more famed collections is the pottery, much of which dates back centuries and features the cobalt blue for which the region is known. Visitors can also compare varying styles of embroideries—some with geometric patterns and others that depict nature. The museum also displays Berber carpets, hand-crafted jewelry and Jewish relics. And, like most of Morocco’s ancient buildings, the structure itself demands admiration with its tile work and archways.

Marrakech: Dar Si Said

One of many art museums in the city of Marrakech, this particular one focuses on woodwork as a decorative and religious art. Featured carvings include furniture, musical instruments and smaller decorative items. The building itself supports the woodworking focus with its intricately patterned wood doors, ceilings and window frames. In addition to wood crafts, the museum also displays other arts typical of southern Morocco, such as Berber carpets and pottery.

Essaouira: Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah

Visitors from around the world flock to the annual Gnaoua World Music Festival in Essaouira, which features gnaoua music (the Gnawa are an ethnic group descended from the country’s neighbor to the south, Mauritania) and includes reggae, jazz and other genres. So it seems appropriate that one of the town’s main attractions is an art museum that houses many of the string instruments the Gnaoua use in their performances. The museum also tells the broader story of the town, with ethnographic collections of coins, jewelry, tools, carpets and pottery.

Written by Shelley A. Gable, instructional designer and freelance writer.

Photo by guillenperez.