The building houses the museum of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah dates back to the nineteenth century. Its initial structure has undergone several changes. At the beginning it was a seigniorial residence composed of several rooms opening on a patio with a fountain, the building became during the French protectorate the seat of the town hall of the city. After independence, the building had housed municipal services before eventually becoming youth center.
On October 20th, 1980, the monument was chosen to house the museum of the city and its region, named "Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah Museum." The major objective was to preserve and present the cultural heritage of the province.
The space of the building had hosted a major exhibition on tea in 2014, during which the Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum closed for the works and is now open again. The opening took place on the 17th of June 2015 with a temporary exhibition about the work of the founder of the museum, Si Boujemaa Lakhdar, as well as local “Swiri” artist Mohamed Abderrahim Harabida Tifardin, allowing the public to rediscover the venue.
This excellent museum is certainly worth spending time in. Not only is the collection which is absolutely fabulous, but the building housing the museum is delightful too. It is one of the best Moroccan museum in which you can lose yourself in the culture and history of the kingdom of Morocco for hours if you should wish to do so.
There is a strong focus on the Berber culture and many of the articles exposed are telling the history of Berber in the region as the first inhabitants of the region. There are some articles that are used in Berber rituals and there are a number of handicraft traditions specific to particular tribes, which have been well documented and presented. Of course, there is also an excellent collection of woodwork and carpets and a wonderful display of old photographs of traditional costumes. Some of the ethnographic parts of the display are located on the upper floor, so make sure that you don’t accidentally skip them.
Small building with rich exhibited materials
Although fairly small, a visit is recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the region’s traditions and culture. Of particular interest are items related to the Gnawa ethnic group. Items on display include weapons, rugs, pottery, coins, musical instruments, clothing, jewelry and wooden carvings. The architecture of the building itself is also impressive.
The permanent exhibition presents to the public general information on the history of the city and its region from prehistoric times, ancient (Phoenician, Mauritanian, Roman and late Roman) and medieval until the founding of the current medina in the eighteenth century, by Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah and his universal declaration of humanity heritage.
The natural heritage of the city of Essaouira and its region is presented through panels illustrating the richness of the natural potential: fauna and flora. A wall showcase presents the various stages of extraction of argan oil.
A series of old photos retrace the way of life and the architectural evolution of the medina. On the first floor of the exhibition there is an exhibition of the intangible heritage of the province of Essaouira, through several collections that includes traditional jewelry, artistic works showcases, synthesis of different cultures (Amazigh, Jewish, Arab); weapons are represented by a series of firearms and knives with their accessories; a collection of coins struck in Essaouira during the 18th century; the exposed costume collection reflects a sartorial art of Moroccan society, especially Essaouira, during the 19th and 20th centuries; traditional and profane musical instruments associated with ritual objects namely the music of Gnaoua, Hmadcha, Melhoun, Andalusian and Amazigh music; artistic works of cedar wood whose chests, caskets and tables defines the know-how of the local Swiri handicraftsmen as to the work of thuya wood; ceilings and parts of painted wooden ceilings testifying to the creation and finesse of the brilliant handicraftswomen; carpets from Essaouira and its region which owe their production to two important tribes: Oulad Bou Sbaâ and Chiadma.
Museum safe and easy reached for visitors
The museum of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah offers visitors a historical data about the city and the region since stone civilizations to the Phoenician period, Mauritanian, Romanian, to the founding of the city during the eighteenth century by Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah. You can also find set of photographs that monitor urban development along history.
Visitors discover the much enlarged art collection against a background of traditional music. The Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum in Essaouira now has decorative art dating from the Saadian dynasty, coins of the Roman era and photographs tracing the customs relating to working Thuya Wood in Essaouira. The museum is located in the Laalouj Street, do not hesitate to touch the wide blue door of Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum; exhibitions are open to all, entry fees are symbolic at 10dhs per person.