The Musée d’Aquitaine is a large museum of the history, culture and ethnography of the Aquitaine region, which includes the department of the Gironde and the city of Bordeaux.
After exhibits on the pre-history of the region, the museum has a large section on Bordeaux in the Gallo-Roman period and the Aquitaine as a Roman province after 56 B.C.
This is one of the ancient Roman gravestones on display. It was found in Bordeaux in 1831 and is identified as the gravestone of the wife of Claudius Bassinus from the middle of the second century, during the reign of Antoninus Pius, who was Emperor from 138 to 161 A.D.
According to the museum’s label, the dating of the gravestone was based on the lady’s hair style, “but taking into account the time lag with which the women in the provinces adopted imperial customs.” This sort of hair style was already in use during the reign of the previous emperor, Hadrien, but became really widespread during the reign of Antoninus.
The rooms on Bordeaux in the 18th century include a scathing exhibit on the slave trade, including the organization of the slavery system in the Caribbean, living conditions and social relationships on the plantations, the sale of slaves, physical abuse, infanticide and finally the long struggle for the abolition of slavery.
This is the layout of a slave ship, showing how the slaves were packed together in the hold of the ship for the long crossing to the Caribbean.
The French Revolution started in 1789 with high ideals: “Unity, Indivisibility of the Republic, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death” as it says in this placard in the Museum of Aquitaine.
Revolutionary politicians from Bordeaux and the Gironde — the Girondins — played an important role in the early years of the Revolution, but most of the prominent Girondins were guillotined by their political rivals during The Terror of 1793.
This is a bust of Pierre-Victurnien Vergniaud (1753 – 1793), an attorney, politician and eloquent orator from Bordeaux who was one of the leaders of the Girondist faction in the National Assembly. He was the last of twenty-two prominent Girondins to be guillotined on the morning of October 31, 1793.
The Museum of Aquitaine has a large new section called Bordeaux port(e) du monde 1800-1939, meaning Bordeaux as a port of the world and a gateway to the world in this period of 139 years from the era of Napoleon to the beginning of the Second World War.
The port of Bordeaux was transformed during the nineteenth century by the transition from sailing ships to steam ships.
This replica of a grocery store, complete with an old cash register and scale, shows the many products from the French colonies and other parts of the world that were brought to Bordeaux by ship.
Address of the Museum of Aquitaine: 20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2019.
See more posts on Bordeaux, France.