Geneva’s art and history museums are a collection of 5 venues: the Musée d’art et d’histoire bordered by two large boulevards, the Cabinets d’arts graphiques and the Art and Archeology Library, the Maison Tavel and finally the Rath museum. If you are an expat or a tourist, these venues are mandatory visits in the City of Calvin. And I did not know until recently (thank you iGersGeneva) that these 5 sites were actually a network and were part of the same museum institution. I know, I feel ashamed. Geneva always surprises me even after all this time… and you know me by now, I love surprises (especially when they are Big).
To honour those venues and because iGersGeneva and My Big Geneva are partners in crime, I jumped at the opportunity to write about the Museum of Art and History because there was a time when I used to head every day to the Charles-Galland street as a student in the history of art. And yes, in the basement of this vast quadrilateral building, there is an amphitheater where the professors of the University of Geneva taught me all the movements and major artistic figures of contemporary art. I was also stuck in this amphitheatre having to follow courses on the introduction to medieval art (really not my thing), but let’s get back to the heart of the matter, I am being too nostalgic, now that I’ve grown up (unfortunately) and probably won’t ever be a student again.
Inaugurated in 1910, the MAH was nicknamed the Grand Museum with its 7000m2 exhibition area. Conceived by the architect Marc Camoletti, the MAH is a melting pot of richness and diversity between sculpture, architecture, history, painting, archeology and applied arts. In its hundred-year-old walls, the most prestigious local artists hung or installed their artwork: Liotard, Saint-Ours, Pradier to name only a few.
Paris has the Louvre (too many tourists), New York the MoMa (where I always get lost for some reason), Chicago the Art Institute (my favourite), Athens the Acropolis Museum (designed in 2003 by the Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi) and so on … The MAH belongs to Geneva and is a reflection and a heritage of our city. And the last couple of months, a breeze of modernism blows in the museum. Starting with the Instagram guided tours by Mam’zelle Zimmie who loves sitting with her rabbit in front of her favorite painting: The Summer by Alexandre Calame or the Strolls of Elyx. The MAH also organizes Afterworks under different themes: from “speed dating” to “happenings” and artists’ meetings (the second season just started and is still orchestrated by the graffiti artist Serval and the illustrator Jean-Philippe Kalonji) one Sunday per month. A unique opportunity to actually see how an artist integrates the artistic legacy.
A visit to the MAH always ends, especially in summer, with a little gourmet break at the Barocco, one of my favorite terraces where you can enjoy a lunch, an ice cream or a homemade cake.
There is no longer any dust in MAH since a long time… check it out if you do not believe me…
From Tue to Sunday 11am to 6pm (closed on Monday)
Rue Charles-Galland 2, 1206 Geneva
Free entrance to permanent collections
Temporary exhibitions 5.- to 20.-
Free entrance until 18 years old and every first Sunday of the month