Travel Guide: the Arts in Geneva

When you land at the Geneva airport, transfers to the city are as slick and well designed as the city itself.

Geneva has grown as a global and cultural hub and is now the chosen home of the Red Cross and several of the departments of the United Nations. Not only does the city play a large role on the stage of international affairs, it also boasts a rich history in the arts and its cultural life is well worth exploring while in the city. One of the best ways to get an overview of the arts and culture of the city is to be sure to take a bit of time to check out the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Rath Museum, and the Art and History Museum.

The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCA)

Housed in an old factory building, the MAMCA is on the cutting edge of new and contemporary European art. The museum was opened in 1994 and the 1950’s industrial architecture of the space allows it to change and morph as the exhibitions need. With a variety of works dating from the early 1960s to today, the museum boasts photographs, installations, paintings, videos and sculptures.

The Rath Museum

Located at Place Neuve 2, the Rath Museum is a great place to visit in. As the first Swiss museum to be devoted to the fine arts, the Rath Museum was built in 1826 as a gift to the people of the city by two sisters, Jeanne-Françoise and Henriette Rath. The museum was conceived as a “Temple of the Muses” and its large, columnar front showcases a classical design, while inside the exhibitions often strike a balance between ancient, classical art and the new, modern and contemporary works.

The Art and History Museum

The Art and History Museum itself is a complex that is comprised of archaeology, fine arts, and applied arts. It is easily the largest museum in the city and it offers massive catalogue of Western culture with over one million pieces in its collection. The archaeology wing is comprised of pieces from ancient Greece and Rome, while the Fine Arts section houses paintings and works from the Renaissance onwards, including works by Van Gogh. The Applied Arts wing showcases furniture, weapons, and articles of daily life and pottery from the Middle Ages forwards. This museum is massive and is worth giving extra time to explore.

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