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Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual ArtMarrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Art

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Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Art

Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Art (MMPVA) Designed by architect David Chipperfield, and conceived by financier and philanthropist Keren Ruimy and her family, who have strong ties to Morocco, the Marrakech Museum for African Photography and Visual Art will house an extensive permanent collection of photography from the 19th century to the present day, as well as hosting contemporary exhibitions by photographers from Africa and around the globe. It is  the world's largest free-standing museum dedicated to photography.

its location will serve as the heart of a multi-point star drawing scholars, students, and visitors from around the world." Architectural plans show four levels housing galleries, a theater, café, bookstore, and educational facilities while its African Art collection will focus on three subjects: Architecture/Design, Photojournalism, and Fashion/Culture [1]. In the meantime, MMPVA has made Marrakech’s Badi Palace its temporary home and project space. The inaugural exhibition, 10 Contemporary Moroccan Photographers, opened on 20 September 2013 with photographs from its permanent collection by Yto Barrada, Carole Benitah, Hicham Benouhoud, Ali Chraibi, Yasmina Bouziane, Hicham Gardaf, Hassan Hajjaj, Lamia Naji, Leila Sadel, and Daoud Aoulad Syad. On 1 November, this exhibition relocated to the Sofitel Marrakech, an exhibition sponsor, to make way for the next project: a residency and exhibition curated by Simon Njami with five photographers from Magnum (Abbas, Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Mark Power, and Mikahel Subotsky) that begins 8 November 2013 and coincides with the museum’s international inauguration.

The African Art Museum’s articulation of its mission in Marrakech and the broader Moroccan and African contexts raises crucial questions at this early stage. Its online press material states: "With a rich program of exhibitions, education and cultural exchange the African Art Museum will be the first such institution on the African Continent and will broaden the artistic experience across cultural boundaries to form greater understanding and tolerance". Certainly, fostering greater understanding, tolerance, and cross-cultural exchange through exhibitions and related educational programming are ambitious and important goals for art museums worldwide and there is not a surplus of institutions supporting artists and arts education in Morocco. But claiming to be the continent’s first risks minimizing the many public and private institutions and initiatives across the continent that are deeply invested in their local contexts and communities. Happily, its September 2013 press release moves away from this tone, clarifying that MMPVA "will be a significant addition to Africa’s cultural landscape" and, at six thousand square meters, the world’s largest photography museum.

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