Things to Do in Lake Geneva - page 2
Watch enthusiasts find a home away from home at the Patek Philippe Museum, which showcases more than 2,000 timepieces from the 16th century onward. Visitors find everything from pocket watches, to jewelry-adorned pieces, to the brand's intricate models. At this novel museum, uncover watchmaking history and the Swiss horology tradition.
The Barbier-Mueller Museum holds the world’s largest collection of non-Western art and artifacts. The core of the permanent collection comprises works from Oceania, Africa, and indigenous artisans of the Americas, supplemented by an important collection of antiquities from Greece, Italy, and other centers of the ancient world.
Rousseau Island (Ile Rousseau is a tree-lined oasis, nestled into a waterfront nook, where the Rhône River meets Lake Geneva. Cross a pedestrian bridge to find the park adorned with benches, trees, and a statute of Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Pop into the café for a snack, or sit and reflect on the picturesque city views.
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO is the largest contemporary art museum in Switzerland. MAMCO showcases a collection of contemporary works, and hosts several rotating exhibitions annually. Visitors can visit the archive, by appointment, or take a guided tour. Arts enthusiasts shouldn't miss this Swiss beacon of the arts.
The Geneva Ethnography Museum (Musée d'Ethnographie de Genève), aka MEG, holds the largest ethnographic collection in Switzerland–its 80,000 objects and 300,000 documents are beautifully arranged in exhibits highlighting all parts of the world. With rotating exhibitions, an extensive anthropology library and an upstairs gallery featuring music from around the globe, there is enough material to interest an expert and entertain those taking a look around. Though most of the descriptions are in French, the new museum is worth a visit, having reopened in 2014 in an iconic, Swiss-designed pavilion reminiscent of an Asian-style pagoda.
Though the building looks small, its peaked roof gives way to huge exhibition spaces below. The permanent exhibition covers two rooms and is free to enter, while the temporary exhibition changes yearly and is paid for. A tour of both is a good way to spend an hour in the city, with less people around in the morning.
Visitors with a Geneva Pass can enter both exhibitions for free, with the added benefit of unlimited public transportation and admission to over 40 other attractions, including Geneva's Natural History Museum and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Travelers looking for a jaunt outside of Geneva's bustling city center should visit Penthes Castle (Château de Penthes, in picturesque Pregny-Chambesy. Visitors enjoy the castle's two museums and Empress’ Park (Parc de l'Impératrice—an ideal place for a sunny stroll. On the chateau's grounds, take in views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
Regularly dubbed the best cultural attraction in Switzerland, the Geneva Museum of Art and History (Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Genève) is home to over 650,000 works of art and artifacts spread over five massive floors. The building itself is a splendor in its own right, a gem of Neo Classical architecture flanked by soaring Grecian columns, a series of allegorical sculptures representing various arts, like drawing, painting, and architecture, as well as a top frieze depicting the names of illustrious local artists. The museum’s diverse collections found inside, which have continuously been enriched since it first opened under the name Musée des beaux-arts in 1826, are a testament to applied arts and beaux-arts, as well as archaeology – painting-wise, some of the sought-after headliners include Rembrandt, Modigliani, Cézanne, and Rodin. In addition to all that, MAH also hosts a dozen temporary exhibits throughout the year, ranging anywhere between Picasso to Akhenaton.
To enjoy an art-filled day in Geneva, travelers should visit the Geneva Contemporary Art Center, a space dedicated to the research and production of works of art. The center hosts numerous exhibitions and screenings, and since it shares space with three other notable art institutions, visitors see more of Geneva's art scene in less time.
Geneva's Museum of Natural History (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Suisse) is Switzerland’s largest natural history museum, and will make visitors believe they are travelling to several different ecosystems all in one place, thanks to highly immersive dioramas. It’s home many of Louis Jurine’s (one of Switzerland’s most notable entomologist and naturalist) collections, notably the hymenoptera, the coleoptera, and the hemiptera sets. The multi-storey museum has an entire floor dedicated to lifelike stuffed regional fauna, which will undoubtedly have visitors do a double take - noteworthy specimens include polar bears, penguins, and even whales. If taxidermy is not your forte, the superior floors focus on the evolution of mankind and the evolution of astronomy. And although every single item hosted by the museum is fascinating in its own right, the real star of the show is Lucy, a bronze statue of the famous Australopithecus and oldest known human fossil. The earthquake simulator is also a big hit – especially with families.
Welcome to Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s birthplace! Situated in Geneva’s scenic Old Town, this historic house is now home to the Maison de Rousseau & de la Littérature (MRL)—a museum and library entirely dedicated to the humanist author’s works and significant legacy. The exhibition retraces the steps and thought process of the impactful Enlightenment philosopher through a 25-minute interactive sound and image display that aims to bring Rousseau’s magnetic character to life. Modern-day authors and thinkers are always welcome to the MRL’s numerous talks and sessions.
As the MRL is located in the heart of Geneva’s most historic quarter, many city tours will at the very least whizz past it, including sightseeing tours and Segway tours.
More Things to Do in Lake Geneva
The picturesque little village of Gruyères is best known the world over for its cheese manufacture but it is also home to two very different museums: one is the slightly sinister HR Giger Museum, full of SciFi models and paintings. The village’s second revelation is right next door; the Tibet Museum specializes in spectacular historic art from the Himalayan region and is tucked away in the renovated Chapel of St Joseph in Gruyères’ medieval heart.
Founded in 2009, the Tibet Museum showcases Buddhist iconography, textiles, gleaming golden statuettes and ritual artifacts that were lovingly collected over 30 years by Alain Bordier. Displayed in half-light to a background of serene music, the antique furniture and decorative pieces are of the highest quality from across Himalayan Asia, with many more than 1,500 years old.
The Baur Foundation, Museum of Far Eastern Art features an impressive collection of 9,000 art objects from China and Japan. The museum hosts two permanent galleries—with work from imperial China and Edo period Japan—and one temporary exhibition. Beyond the well-curated collection, visitors enjoy the Zen Buddhism-influenced Japanese garden.
Geneva’s Rath Museum (Musée Rath) is the oldest museum in Switzerland built specifically for art and one of the first buildings in Europe designed to host art exhibits. Built in the 1820s, it was designed as a temple of muses, inspired by the temples of ancient Greece. While it was originally used for permanent art exhibitions, teaching and other cultural events, by the late 19th century it became too small for its collections. Since the larger Musee d’Art et d’Histoire opened in 1910, the Rath Museum has hosted smaller exhibitions of Swiss and international art and archaeology, including temporary exhibits of the Musee d’Art. The most recent exhibition is Nightfall: Gothic Imagination Since Frankenstein.
Known to many as the Bodmer Library, the Martin Bodmer Foundation (Fondation Martin Bodmer) outside of Geneva is a library and museum whose permanent collection attempts to retrace the history of civilization through writing. Bodmer established the library in the 1920s and built two neo-Baroque houses in the town of Cologny to house works focused on five pillars of world literature: the Bible, Homer, Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Today, the collection includes more than 160,000 items.
Highlights include a Gutenberg Bible from 1452, a first edition print of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses from 1517, and the oldest surviving Gospel of James, as well as a collection of 22 papyri discovered in Egypt in 1952. Known as the Bodmer Papyri, the latter include segments from the Old and New Testaments, writings of Homer, and pieces of early Christian literature.
Visit for free with the Geneva Pass, which includes admission to over 30 city attractions, such as the towers of St. Peter's Basilica and the Art and History Museum.
Founded by Nestlé and just minutes from the company's global headquarters in Vevey, the Alimentarium - Food Museum is devoted to food, diet, and nutrition. Get insight into the history and future of the human diet through interactive exhibitions, hands-on workshops, tastings, and cooking demonstrations.
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