Opening of “Barvalo” exhibition on May 9 at the Mucem


Roma, Sinti, Manoushes, Gitanos, Travellers…

Opening on Tuesday, 9 May, 2023 at the Mucem (Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean) in Marseille

Developed in partnership and co-curated by ERIAC


“Barvalo”, meaning “rich” and by extension “proud” in Romani, is dedicated to the history and diversity of the Romani peoples of Europe. Denouncing anti-Gypsyism and stereotypical representations, the exhibition also proposes to reverse the visitor’s gaze and to engage in a reflection on belonging and identity. The exhibition is designed collaboratively by a team of nineteen people of Romani (Roma, Sinti, Manouches, Gitanos, Travellers) and non-Romani origin, of different nationalities and backgrounds who have all been working on this groundbreaking project since 2018.


From the earliest accounts of their arrival in Europe to the present day, the first section of the exhibition highlights the ways in which persecution of the Romani population, culminating in the Holocaust, arose and is perpetuated. This first part also deals with the role of stereotypical representations in culture and folklore. In parallel, this part of the exhibition also shows how Romani groups expressed themselves, especially through a common language, Romani, and claimed their rights in these situations of oppression.

The second part of the exhibition offers a reflection on the notions of belonging and identity, by reversing the visitor’s view. This is the installation by the artist Gabi Jimenez, the Gadjo Museum: here we discover “gadjology”, an imaginary and parodic science of the Other that echoes a Romani perception. This space takes the form of a diorama devoted to “gadjo culture”, thus revealing the absurdity of the essentialisation of the Other when it is pushed to its extreme. It also questions the role of the ethnographic museum as a disseminator of “truth”. 

At the end of the visit route, a gallery of portraits of famous and not-so-famous individuals testifies to the richness of Romani cultures and the pride of the various communities in contributing to the cultural diversity of European societies in order to assert, loud and clear, barvalo!

Throughout the exhibition, the visitor is accompanied virtually by four ‘guides’ belonging to four distinct Romani groups. Their personal and family stories resonate with a broader, shared European history. In each part, the works of non-Romani artists rub shoulders with those of contemporary Romani sculptors, photographers and painters in order to allow the representatives of these minorities to give their vision of nine centuries of presence in Europe and cultural affirmation. 

The exhibition brings together 200 works and documents (printed, video and sound) from French and European public and private collections, including the Louvre Museum, the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, the Museum of Ethnography in Geneva, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Nicéphore Niépce Museum in Chalon-sur-Saône, the Archives départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône, the Archives municipales de Marseille, the Médiathèque Matéo Maximoff, the Musée de Grenoble, the National History Museum and the National Archives of Romania, the Kai Dikhas Foundation, the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture in Berlin, the Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma in Heidelberg. 

Among these 200 works, 62 come from the Mucem’s collections and 15 were specially conceived for the exhibition and produced by the museum: 6 commissions to European Romani artists – Luna De Rosa (Italy), Gabi Jimenez and Marina Rosselle (France), Mitch Miller (Scotland), Emanuel Barica (Romania) – and 9 audiovisual creative works (film, animated map and sound).


Curatorial team

Julia Ferloni, curator, head of the “Crafts, Trade and Industry” unit, Mucem
Anna Mirga-Kruszelnicka, associate director of Eriac – European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (Berlin) 
Jonah Steinberg, associate professor and chair of the Global Studies Department at the University of Vermont, USA


Associate curators
Françoise Dallemagne, collections and research officer, Mucem
Alina Maggiore, PhD student in social anthropology, Mucem / University of Aix-Marseille / University of Freiburg, Germany

Expert committee

William Acker, lawyer, general delegate of the National Association of Traveller Citizens (ANGVC)
Yahya Al-Abdullah, PhD student in social anthropology, EHESS Paris
Nelly Debart, fairground worker, president of ANGVC and member of the Travellers’ Advisory Council
Bénédicte Florin, lecturer in geography, Arab and Mediterranean World Team (EMAM), CITERES laboratory, University of Tours
Lise Foisneau, anthropologist, research fellow at the CNRS
Pascal Garret, photographer and sociologist, Tours
Caroline Godard, project manager of the NGO Rencontres Tsiganes, Marseille
Gabi Jimenez, visual artist and president of ADVOG
Timea Junghaus, art historian, director of Eriac, Berlin
Jean-Pierre Liégeois, sociologist, honorary teacher-researcher and director (1979-2003) of the Roma Research Centre at the University of Paris-Descartes, consultant to the Council of Europe
Valentin Merlin, freelance photographer
Cristian Padure, linguist, teacher-researcher at the University of Bucharest
Santino Spinelli, musician, composer and professor at the University of Chieti
Sasha Zanko, tinsmith, president of the NGO Tchatchipen and delegate of the European Roma and Travellers Forum

Scenography: bGc studio, Iva Berthon Gajšak, Giovanna Comana, Clara Launay

Graphic design: Fabrice Petithuguenin


Download here the Invitation e-card for the opening on May 9.

The exhibition is open to visitors from May 10 to September 4, 2023.