Morocco's Capital of Culture, Rabat, also known as the City of Light.
Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, is now home to several art galleries and art spaces supported by private foundations. Art is also available in large formats, thanks to graffiti artists who are invited every year to express themselves on the walls of the city.
One of the most notable art museums in Rabat is the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. It opened its doors in 2014 with an inaugural exhibition titled “1914-2014, One Hundred Creation”, which was a landmark event. The museum has established Rabat as the epicenter of the Moroccan plastic scene. This is a fitting return for the city that, before Casablanca, saw the birth of the country’s first modern art galleries. In 1957, L’œil Noir and La Découverte opened, two ephemeral spaces founded by artists, followed soon after by L’atelier, which from 1972 to 1992, exhibited all the pioneers of modern Moroccan art.
The Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art alternates between individual exhibitions of the greatest figures of world art, such as Picasso or Modigliani, and the big names of the Moroccan scene. The museum also showcases young and foreign artists working in Morocco. This program, as well as the actions carried out in favor of students and college students, attests to the institution’s commitment to disseminating the Moroccan artistic heritage while encouraging creativity and cultural development.
Rabat also has several very active private galleries such as Marsam (also a publisher), Galerie Nadira La Découverte, Abla Ababou Galerie, or Fan Dok, to name just a few. Private foundations are also very active, thanks to places such as the CDG Foundation’s Art Space; the Villa des Arts in Rabat, supported by the ONA Foundation; or the Bank Al-Maghrib Museum, which exhibits a rich collection of modern and contemporary art. The capital can also be proud of its rooms managed by the Ministry of Culture, including Bab Rouah and Bab El Kebir.
The Villa des Arts in Rabat is an old and beautiful villa from the 20th century that has been converted into a large contemporary art exhibition space that regularly hosts temporary exhibitions. It also integrates the first Moroccan virtual museum, which is associated with the Museums Without Borders organization, to offer art lovers the first virtual museum on Islamic art.
L’Apartment 22 is an independent exhibition and debate space that questions both the history of art and the social, political, and cultural context of its emergence. Founded in 2002 by Abdellah Karroum, who is also the director of Mathaf (the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar), its role as a “micro-academy” was further strengthened following the launch of R22, the first web radio for art.
Rabat is now one of the most popular cities for contemporary graffiti artists, according to specialist magazine Artsy. Since the first edition of the Jidar festival, Toiles de Rue, in 2015, many artists, some of the most renowned internationally, have exercised their talents on the white facades of the city. Several of their creations have had the honors of the international press, including the work of Argentinian street artist Jaz, classified among the most beautiful in the world. Each year, graffiti artists from all over the world join Moroccan artists to form a fascinating mix of styles and cultures.
The Museum of History and Civilizations and the Bank Al Maghreb Museum are other noteworthy museums in Rabat. The former presents chronological exhibitions of prehistoric tools, Neolithic furniture, bronze or ceramic statuettes of the first cities of the Islamic era, and a collection of exceptional bronze pieces. The latter has three sections dedicated to the history of currency, an art gallery, and a business area that details the history of Banque du Maroc.