"Hemen sartzen dena, bere etxean da" Whoever enters here is at home. The motto of the Basque Museum and Bayonne History gives the tone. The visitor knows that he is welcome in this France Museum which offers, in addition to an exceptional ethnographic collection dedicated to the Basque Country, temporary exhibitions, à la carte visits, activities for all audiences and cultural activities. As a place for the exchange of ideas and views, knowledge and research, cultural activities and life, the museum has honoured its welcoming motto since its creation.
Located in the heart of the old town center, it contains, on 3,000 m² of exhibition space, more than 2,000 objects and works of art - collected mainly at the beginning of the 20th century - that bear witness to the functioning of Basque society. The Bayonne history, a sea and river port, is also mentioned, at the Basque confluence, Gascon and Jewish cultures...
The museum opened its doors at the beginning of the 20th century. He had taken up residence in the Maison Dagourette, the former residence of a Bayonne merchant. Built at the beginning of the 17th century on the Nive's banks, this building is one of the oldest in the city and is a rare testimony to the type of port housing linked to trade and the bourgeoisie. Classified as a Historic Monument in 1991, it has been beautifully restored and since 2001 has housed a completely renewed museography on three levels. The ethnographic section takes place in the port warehouses; the art and history section occupies the floors of the house. A tour route, divided into 20 thematic rooms, is organized around the argialde, a vast skylight. Nearly 2,000 objects and paintings on display illustrate the different aspects of Basque culture: rural and domestic life, funeral rites, crafts, maritime and river activities, festivals and games, regional history... The room on the relief plan of the Bayonne port in 1805 offers keys to discover the historic city whose roofs stand out behind the windows on the top floor of the museum.
Temporary exhibitions, highlighting a theme, an artist or a historical period, are regularly presented at the museum. Guided tours are also scheduled, individual (Tuesday, Thursday, and every first Sunday of the month) and for groups (on reservation). An interactive place, the museum organizes conferences, events, activities for young people and schoolchildren, and evenings in the summer. The shop displays its books and souvenirs in the reception hall.
Within a walking distance away, on Paul-Bert Square, scholars can visit the museum's library. The latter is nestled in the north wing of Château-Neuf, an imposing fortress built in the 15th century and now classified as a historic monument. With its 30,000 documents, books on Basque culture, newspapers, 19th and 20th century and contemporary journals, this documentation center is one of the most important in the region.
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