The Tunisian Ministry of Culture announced the upcoming reopening of the Bardo National Museum, which was forced to close its doors in 2021 after the coup by Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed. This reopening will take place “after the end of the maintenance and restoration work in its various pavilions and rooms”, started this year. But the ministry does not communicate any date.
Located in the same architectural ensemble as the Tunisian parliament, the Bardo Museum unwillingly closed its doors when President Kaïs Saïed suspended parliament when he came to power on July 25, 2021. A new parliament was elected at the start of The year 2023 but with low voter participation and within the framework of a new constitution which has considerably reduced its room for maneuver. Kaïs Saïed governs by decree and the regime has taken an increasingly authoritarian turn. Prime Minister Najla Bouden was dismissed on August 1 without explanation.
As soon as the Bardo closed, various personalities mobilized on social networks to demand the reopening of the museum. In March 2023, a collective, including former minister Jack Lang and actor Michel Boujenah, published an article in The world to demand the reopening of the institution. According to them, this closure is an attack on the fundamental right of access to culture. “The reopening of the Bardo Museum is an emergency for culture, tourism, for Tunisia and for our common history. As an object of national pride, a global tourist destination and a crucible of our shared history, the Bardo Museum can no longer remain closed”, they emphasize. Last August, a petition was also circulating, demanding the reopening of the museum.
The Bardo National Museum has closed several times in the past, notably after the Tunisian revolution of 2011 and following the terrorist attack perpetrated at the museum in 2015.
Legacy of ancient Carthage and its Punic culture, the country is full of archaeological sites and vestiges of the classical era. The Bardo has a rich collection of Roman antiquities from excavations of various archaeological sites, the best known of which is Carthage, listed as a world heritage site since 1979 and immortalized by Flaubert in Salammbô.
Considered one of the most important museums in the Mediterranean region and the second in Africa after that of Cairo, the Bardo National Museum houses a vast collection of Roman mosaics from around the world, numerous funerary steles, busts of emperors – like those of Augustus, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius or Caracalla – and works from the Christian period and Islamic art.