Le Maison de la Photographie (often the “Photography Museum” or “House of Photography” in English) is one of Morocco’s richest photography museums. Le Maison de la Photographie is tucked away deep in the old Marrakesh medina. You will have to make your way through the popular souks and walk through some twisting back alleys to find the beautiful riad where the museum is located. But even if you get lost on your way, the museum is well worth the hunt! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the heart of the Red City you will find a collection of photographs worth thousands upon thousands of words.
Le Maison de la Photographie – The Collection
Opened in 2009, le Maison de la Photographie was founded by two Parisian aficionados of Moroccan vintage photography, Patrick Menac’h and Marrakshi Hamid Mergani. Upon realizing the exquisite collections they had each curated individually, the two decided to open a gallery to show their collections in their original context. Thus was born le Maison de la Photographie. Today, this museum showcases over 4,500 photographs, 2,000 glass negatives and 80 documents (including vintage postcards). The collection spans nearly an entire century, from the 1870s to the 1950s. There is also a rotating exhibition, often featuring more contemporary artists.
The vast collection at Maison de la Photographie contains works from both world-renowned photographers (such as George Washington Wilson and Marcelin Flandrin) as well as unknown artists who have focused on the scenes of Moroccan daily life throughout the decades. Organized by region and theme on three floors, the exhibition rooms represent various historical and cultural aspects of Morocco. These include vintage photographs of the souks in the 19th century, the archaeological site of Volubilis, children pumping water from fountains in the 1890s, important architectural complexes, and various portraits.
Amazigh (or “Berber”) culture is also featured prominently in the museum. Various photographs depict daily life scenes of these amazing people.
Additionally, the museum continuously loops the first full-color documentary filmed by Daniel Chicault. This documentary, filmed in Morocco in 1957, explores the Amazigh (Berber) tribes of the High Atlas. For an even deeper dive into Berber culture, definitely consider adding a side trip to the Majorelle Gardens with the Pierre Bergé Berber Museum to your Marrakesh experience. The gardens are of course amazing, but the museum itself has exhibitions of various artifacts and photographs from all over Morocco that take you even deeper into the amazing Amazigh culture and history.
Le Maison de la Photographie – Morocco through the Decades
A pensive walk through the different exhibition rooms offers an incredible experience to witness what Moroccan life was like. Photographers of the 19th century through the 1950s have captured just how much of this life had changed. And… how much remained the same!
Some scenes will be familiar to modern Morocco. The Pharmacie sign hung up on a corner on Djema El Fnaa Square, for instance, was captured by a photographer all the way back in 1926 and is still hanging there today. Other images stand in stark contrast to today’s reality. The traditional dress, for example, has changed significantly over time!
The Maison de la Photographie is both an incredible experience for those who have visited different parts of Morocco as well as it is an enriching visit for those who have not had a chance to explore the county as deeply.
And if all this isn’t enough reason for you to drop by at the Maison de la Photographie, consider this: the panoramic terrace at the top of the museum is one of the best places to enjoy some tasty coffee or even a great lunch deals, for less than $10!
The Red City Awaits!
Needless to say, a visit to the Maison de la Photographie is a MUST for anyone interested in photography, whether that is personally making some of the best photography in Morocco, or for those interested less in making fresh photos, and more into appreciating what has already been made.
On a guided visit of Marrakesh, you can of course visit the Maison de la Phographie with our local expert guide. Just let us know! All of our most popular circuits of Morocco include a stay in Marrakesh. Consider checking out our best of Morocco itinerary, Ultimate Morocco, and even our trip into the Erg Chigaga region of the Sahara. Contact our team to plan well ahead as Morocco has become a very popular destination! … but don’t forget to pack your own camera so that you can capture memories for years to come!
About the Author
Updated text and photos by award-winning writer, photographer, and Morocco expert, Lucas Peters. Original text by Maria Pinto. After spending years traveling to the distant corners of Morocco and writing about his adventures, Lucas penned the 1st and 2nd editions of the best-selling guidebook Moon Guidebooks: Morocco as well as Marrakesh and Beyond published by Hachette. He edited and contributed to the Our Morocco anthology and helps the travelers of Journey Beyond Travel experience the adventure of a lifetime. He lives in Tangier with his family.