The creation of the museum

From 1885 to 1888, The French Protectorate which was established in 1881 undertook important works on all the Bardo palaces and transformed the interiors into exhibition halls intended to host national archaeological, historical, and ethnological collections.

This reconversion, which was announced by the Beylic decree of 25 March 1885 proclaiming the creation of the Alaoui museum in Mhammed Bey’s old harem, was the result of the heritage-creation policy subjecting cultural assets. This was started by the Tunisian Prime Minister and great reformer, Kheireddine Pacha, who thus brought the activities of the private collectors in the government of his predecessor, Mustapha Khaznadar (1837-1873) to an end.

This initiative was aiming at the constitution of national museographic collections about the different eras of the country’s history.
These collections, which had firstly been exposed in arranged places in the Kasbah of Tunis, near the government headquarters (Dar El Bey), were transferred to the Alaoui Museum. They were enriched with a department of Tunisian crafts which was a project of Kheireddine Pacha himself in order to highlight the ancestral and durable character of the Tunisian craftsmen’s know how at that time.
By virtue of the Beylic decree of November 7, 1882, the Tunisian government and the French Protectorate authorities jointly created a Tunisian Directorate of Antiquities and Arts and entrusted it with the project. After six years dedicated to the rehabilitation and collection of works, the Alaoui Museum was opened in 7 May 1888 and was inaugurated with pomp by Ali Bey, who was in power at that time, accompanied by French personalities.