About Geneva Museum of Art and History
The Geneva Museum of Art and History (Musee d’art et d’histoire) is Switzerland’s largest such museum and home to a world renowned collection. From contemporary works right back to those of antiquity and prehistoric times, the Geneva Museum of Art and History displays some 7,000 artefacts and items of art from around the globe.
The Geneva Museum of Art and History is separated into themes and sections: the main ones being archaeology, fine arts and applied arts. These areas house incredibly diverse collections, including medieval paintings, Byzantine art and Roman sculptures, all under one roof.
Geneva Museum of Art and History history
The museum as an institution was originally part of the Musée des Beaux-Arts founded in 1826, and the Musée Académique, founded in 1818 with a focus on natural history and archaeology. The collections were acquired by the city of Geneva who contributed the State of Geneva’s impressive weapons collection in 1870. The collections expanded through the later 19th century, demanding new exhibition rooms.
In 1900, a competition was held to design a new museum building. On the bequest of banker Charles Galland, the new museum was built between 1903 and 1910 by architect Marc Camoletti. The museum was built in Les Tranchées – in the city’s heart – on the site of the former fortification ring. The square shape of the museum surrounded an inner courtyard and was comprised of 4 storeys.
The facade was decorated to reflect the Geneva Museum of Art and History’s contents: sculptures depict painting, sculpting, drawing and architecture, mounted above the triangular entrance. The upper frieze also included the names of notable Genevan artists including Agasse, Calame, Menn and Pradier. The museum was still too small, however, and some parts of the collections were spread out to other museums.
Geneva Museum of Art and History today
Open Tuesday through Sunday, the Geneva Museum of Art and History brings together a rich collection of archaeological, applied and fine art items for visitors to view. For free, you can view the permanent collections that are home to highlights such as ‘The Miraculous Draught of Fishes’ from 1444 by Konrad Witz.
The applied art section also contains Byzantine art, icons, weapons from the Renaissance as well as textiles and musical instruments. In the Egyptian section, be sure to visit the mummy from the 9th century BC. Current temporary exhibitions include ‘Graphic Arts’ which spotlights over 300 pastel pieces as well as portraits of English and Scottish nobility in the 17th century. There are also audioguides.
Getting to the Geneva Museum of Art and History
Public transport is the easiest way to get around Geneva. Catch the 36 bus to Eglise Russe from which you can walk the 160 metres to the museum. Alternatively, you could get the 12 and 17 trams or buses 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 25, 33, 36 and more to Rive, a 5 minute walk to the museum via Boulevard Emile-Jaques-Dalcroze.