The Orange Museum
The Art and History Museum of Orange is located in a private mansion built in the 17th century for Georges Van Cuyl. This Dutchman was responsible for the munitions at the castle of the princes of Orange, which stood at the summit of Saint-Eutrope hill above the theatre. From its original construction, the mansion has kept its staircase, its windows, its beamed ceilings and a plasterwork fireplace. Today it is home to a rich collection of furniture and objets d’art, and recounts the history of Orange from Classical Antiquity to the 19th century.
The principality room
This first room conjures up the astonishing past of Orange, from the Middle Ages to modern times, thanks to varied items such as a series of engravings and portraits of the princes and princesses of Orange-Nassau, crossbows evoking the existence of a company of crossbowmen responsible for security in the principality and even the size of the university of Orange, a symbol of power.
The portico room
This is home to a major work: the Centaur mosaic. After a number of excavations conducted over the last two centuries in Orange, ancient decorations were discovered in the theatre and in other Roman monuments. The Centaur mosaic was found in the cellars in the Pontillac area, located at the heart of the town. It was recently restored in the workshops of the Musée de l’Arles Antique.
Reliefs that decorated the stage wall of the theatre are also exhibited here: eagles holding garlands of bay leaves, flowers or fruit in their beaks, or a relief representing a battle between cavalrymen and foot soldiers.
The land registry room
This room presents the fragments of 3 Roman land registries engraved on marble slabs. These unique documents were discovered in Orange in 1949. They were engraved in 77 AD as part of a complete revision of land ownership decided on by the Emperor Vespasian.
In the middle of the room is a mosaic from the 1st century called the “amphora” mosaic. Other sections of ornamental tiling demonstrate the wealth of the houses in Ancient Orange, such as a geometric design of coloured marble. Finally, friezes from the 1st century that decorated the theatre’s stage wall (battle of the Amazons against foot soldiers, procession of Centaurs bearing offerings in honour of Dionysus and procession of victories).