Visit Some of The Best Museums in Geneva
It may not be Switzerland's capital city but Geneva is well worth visiting. When you are ready to explore beyond the views of Lake Geneva and the Alps, there are over thirty museums here with the city-sponsored museums offering free entry on the first Sunday of each month.
1. INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT
Geneva is home to the headquarters of Europe's Red Cross so it is fitting there is the International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent here to explain their work. Immerse yourself in over 150 years of humanitarianism at this modern museum. Interactive displays look at topics such as Defending Human Dignity, Restoring Family Links and Reducing Natural Risks. You can find out more about the history of the Red Cross and use the 'On the Spot' exhibit to track current Red Cross and Red Crescent operations around the world.
The original Geneva Convention is on display plus a number of gifts presented to Red Cross workers over the years by prisoners of war around the world. And the audio headset allows you to hear the stories of people who have been helped by the institution as well as more about each exhibit.This may sound daunting, and the museum is designed to make an impact on visitors, but it is well worth coming here as it is somewhere you will remember for a long time.
All science enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to CERN. The Globe of Science and Innovation, representing the Earth, is 27 metres high with a diameter of 40 metres making it close to the size of the dome of Saint Peter's in Rome. This unique landmark has a 'Universe of Particles' exhibition on the ground floor that takes visitors on an immersive journey into the world of particles, up to the Big Bang. You can apply online for a free guided tour (they receive twice the amount of applications than they can accommodate). But if you don't get the date you need, everyone can visit the permanent exhibitions.
Tim Berners-Lee was a scientist at CERN in 1989 when he proposed to develop a radical method for linking and sharing information via the Internet. The World Wide Web was born and now we couldn't live without it.
3. MUSÉE D'HISTOIRE DES SCIENCES
Musée d'Histoire des Sciences has a collection of old scientific instruments from the cabinets of Geneva's scholars from the 17th to 19th century. The objects are witnesses to scientific breakthroughs, the history of Geneva but also the construction of scientific knowledge and ideas in general. They allow us to put into perspective the science of today and better understand the evolution of certain disciplines and techniques such as astronomy, microscopy, gnomonics, electricity or meteorology.
Documenting evolution of old scientific measurement apparatus, the Museum is housed in a 19th-century villa overlooking Lake Geneva in La Perle du Lac, close to the Botanical Gardens.
4. ATEK PHILIPPE MUSEUM
Geneva is considered to be the birthplace of fine watchmaking. Following John Calvin's Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, Genevans had to dress simply without adornments. So the people of Geneva decided to buy watches and many jewellers retrained as watchmakers.
Regarded as one of Switzerland's master watchmakers, Patek Phillippe started out in 1839. The Patek Philippe Museum traces the evolution of watchmaking in Geneva with a collection of antiques and the company's collection from its foundation. The museum covers five centuries of watchmaking over four floors with an impressive private collection including timepieces, music boxes, pistols, portraits and trinkets. This exquisite museum is in a restored Art Deco townhouse in the Plainpalais area of Geneva. Guided tours are available on Saturdays.
5. MUSÉE D'ETHNOGRAPHIE DE GENÈVE (MEG)
The Musée d'ethnographie de Genève (also known as MEG) was founded in 1901. Housed in a new pagoda-shaped building in the city centre since 2014, the museum won the prestigious European Museum of the Year Award in 2017.
It is free to visit and from the collection that has over 80,000 artefacts from across five continents. Around 1,000 objects are on permanent display. The MEG offers the curious mend a window onto the world's cultures. There is a temporary exhibition to see each year and in the library, you can listen to music and watch videos from across the world.
6. MUSÉE D'ART DE D'HISTOIRE
Musee d'Art de d'Histoire is the largest museum in Geneva. There are over 7,000 exhibits on display from prehistory to modern times. It brings together archaeological, applied art and fine arts collections so you can admire relics from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, then paintings from the Renaissance onward including works by Van Gogh and Renoir, before seeing furniture, weapons and other articles of daily life from the Middle Ages.
Do see 'The Miraculous Draught of Fishes' by Konrad Witz, the museum's most famous painting. And do stop at the cafe/restaurant as Le Barocco is recommended.
7. MUSÉE ARIANA
The Ariana Museum, also known as the Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass, is located on the grounds adjoining the United Nations in an admired neo-baroque and neo-classical villa. Dedicated to kiln crafts, the museum includes stoneware, porcelain, pottery and glass from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Over 20,000 objects cover seven centuries representing the historic, geographic, artistic and technological breadth of glass and ceramic manufacture during this time. The collection illustrates how Europe's tastes evolved and how artisans around the world stepped up to meet demand, even in challenging times.
8. MAISON TAVEL
Built in the 12th century by the wealthy Maison family, Maison Tavel is one of the oldest houses in Geneva. Across the six storeys, there are artefacts which focus on the city's history and objects of daily life in Geneva from the Middle Ages through to the late 1800s.
There is a short film to watch on the first floor that showcases Geneva's development (available in English, French, and German). And the attic has an impressive scale model of Geneva from the late 1800s when walls still surrounded the city. Medieval graffiti in the basement of the house is another highlight.
9. MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
The largest museum of its kind in Switzerland, Geneva's Museum of Natural History holds complete collections of Swiss flora and fauna, as well as geological exhibits from the local area. There are five floors of exhibits with a special emphasis on the ecological history of Switzerland.
You can see Janus, a two-headed turtle (it's actually two turtles with one body), plus dinosaurs, sea life and birds. There is a life-size model menagerie of bears, foxes, alligators, aardvarks and other animals from around the world too.
WHERE TO STAY
Fraser Suites Geneva is in the heart of the city in the prestigious shopping and business district of Rue du Marché. The fully-furnished luxury and spacious serviced apartments have separate kitchen, dining and living areas so you feel at home while staying in town. There's an onsite gym and a dining room for breakfast, plus a 24-hour reception and concierge service available.
Written by Laura Porter - Travel writer for Frasers Hospitality