Created in 1970 and expanded in 2002, the El-Jem Museum’sbuilding comprises two bodies organized around two patios leading to exhibition rooms named after the mosaic pavements they house. It was built on the site of a Roman villa, of which it rendersthe spatialorganization. The building has the typical layout of a Mediterranean house with a central courtyard and rooms arranged around a peristyle. Here, objects - sculptures, mosaic panels, ceramics, etc. - from the excavations conducted in and around Thysdrus are on display. Other objects have been discovered through various excavations and chance finds, including numerous architectural elements that were used to decorate the sumptuous Thysdran homes and public buildings, in particular the beautiful and dazzling mosaic pavements, which are among the most beautiful of Roman antiquity. These include "the Dionysian parade", "the Coronation of Dicludeonysus in the presence of a drunken Silenus", " the Drunken Silenus", " Orpheus", "the Muses" and "the Failure of the envious". Some of these pieces, which gained a lot of fame,have long been on display in other museums, either in Tunisia, such as the Bardo National Museum, the Carthage National Museum, the Sousse Archaeological Museum and the Mahdia Museum, or abroad.
In addition to mosaics, the El-Jem Museum features a permanent display of artefacts of all kinds which, in their own way, shed light on the material culture of the Thysdritans. These include pieces and various tool blanksof different materialsand multiple use, which eloquently illustrate the richness and diversity of craftsmanship during the Roman period.
The El Jem sculpture collection contains about fifty objects consisting of busts, heads, statuettes, complete statues and bas-reliefs. They represent emperors, empresses, male and female deities. A large part of this collection is exhibited in the rooms and gardens of the El Jem Museum.Othersare on display at the Sousse Museum, the Bardo Museum, the Leiden Museum and the Louvre Museum.
The El-Jem museum gives access to an "archaeological park" comprising the remains of three villas: the House of the Peacock, one of the most outstanding villas of the south-eastern district of the city, the House of the Dolphins, which takes its name from the mosaic that was found therein, representing dolphins, and the Sollertianadomus, which owes its name to an inscription on a threshold mosaic, which is still in place. This latter house also yielded the "Damnatio ad Bestias" mosaic showing light-skinned slaves, probably Germanic prisoners bought to be thrown to the beasts. Next to these domus, the sumptuous House of Africa. Discovered in the 1990s, it consists of a large residence and a thermal complex covering an area of 3,000 sq.m.The House of Africa is the result of the reconstruction of part of this large residence, built on the site of an ancient necropolis.
The walls of some of the rooms in the House of Africa ornamentation include imitation marble slabs of different colours, as well as wall paintings and, above all, mosaics whose iconographic repertoire,typical of of African mosaics, represents two geographical allegories. One of the pavements is dedicated to the goddess Africa and the other to Rome and its provinces.