Musée de l’Elysée
One of the world’s leading museums entirely dedicated to photography
An innovative museum
A cultural institution that is indispensable because of the high quality of its exhibitions, its publications and the archives it preserves and promotes, the Musée de l’Elysée testifies to the diversity of photographic practices. One of the largest institutions dedicated to photography, the museum continues to assert itself as a centre of excellence in its five defining fields: exhibition, collection, publication, education and new technology. The Musée de l’Elysée’s new building will provide premises that are in tune with its ambition to be regarded by professionals and the general public as a museum of reference in the field of photography and images.
The Musée de l’Elysée is committed to preserving, showcasing and restoring a vast photographic heritage, currently consisting of over one million phototypes. The Musée de l’Elysée’s collections are very rich, covering the whole history of the medium, from its pioneers in the 19th century to contemporary photographers. The Musée de l’Elysée is recognised far beyond Switzerland’s borders thanks to its matchless expertise in organising international events. More than 50,000 people visit the four exhibitions (on average) presented at the museum each year, while thirteen extramural exhibitions (on average) circulate thanks to collaborations with internationally renowned public and private institutions. Through its exhibitions, the Musée de l’Elysée’s presence extends from Paris to New York, from Zurich to Beijing, and from Lugano to Cape Town.
A breeding ground for contemporary photography
The Musée de l’Elysée explores both historical and emerging photography. It makes sure to support young photographers in a concerted way, some through exhibitions accompanied by a publication, others through production aid or acquisitions. This commitment takes account of the stage that artists have reached in their careers, offering them a boost and allowing emerging photographers to gain recognition from professionals, critics and the public. The new cultural platform created by the grouping of the three museums will help strengthen the Musée de l’Elysée’s role as a springboard for the young generation.
An image laboratory
Since the photographic medium is constantly transforming, the Musée de l’Elysée never stops experimenting with images in many ways: events open to everyone; publications distributed in Switzerland and abroad; a trilingual magazine, ELSE, which explores photography in all of its forms, both artistic and vernacular; collaborations with other fields; participation in key photography and art meetings in Switzerland and abroad; but also ambitious digitization of its books and its collection. The “Nuit des images” exemplifies the museum’s desire to give as many people as possible the chance to discover the medium’s multiple facets. Working to create a convivial environment where art and creativity can be celebrated: such is the essence of the Musée de l’Elysée’s vision within PLATEFORME 10.
Exhibition spaces adapted to images
With the mudac, the Musée de l’Elysée will share the building designed by Portuguese architects Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus. Making up the base of the building, the Musée de l’Elysée’s exhibition spaces were designed to allow optimal, secure presentation of various formats, some of which can be especially sensitive, particularly to aspects of light. A virtual exhibition space that is to be inaugurated in the spring of 2017 will be expanded in the future building.
The exhibition rooms — designed in line with international standards of security, lighting, temperature, hygrometry and space — will provide the Musée de l’Elysée with a tool that serves its ambitions. Presenting large formats, raising awareness of current problems linked to images, experimenting with ways of presenting and conserving the medium: these are all themes in which the Musée de l’Elysée will continue to develop its expertise.
Musée de l’Elysée — cantonal museum of photography
Year founded: 1985
Director: Tatyana Franck
Collections: 1 million phototypes (prints, negatives, contact sheets and slides), over 20,000 photography books, numerous photographic archives including those of Ella Maillart (1903–1997), Nicolas Bouvier (1929–1998), Marcel Imsand (born 1929), Charles Chaplin (1889–1977) or René Burri (1933–2014)
Focus: Heritage conservation and display; support for young photographers; support for production; publishing; organising events; education.