One of the world’s largest institutions dedicated to photography, the Musée de l’Elysée is recognized for its role in favour of the multiplicity of photographic practices, for the quality and diversity of its exhibitions and publications, and for the wealth of its collections. With unique collections of over a million phototypes, including several complete archives by artists such as Sabine Weiss, Jan Groover, Ella Maillart, and Nicolas Bouvier, as well as Charlie Chaplin and René Burri, who entrusted the museum with his photographic archives.
Since its creation in 1985 as a “museum for photography”, the Musée de l’Elysée has established itself as a centre of excellence in Switzerland and abroad thanks to a network of international partners in the fields of the promotion of photography and photographers, the conservation and restoration of the photographic medium, cultural activities and digital innovation.
By supporting emerging photographers and artists—by offering new perspectives on well-known photographers and by confronting photography with other art forms—the museum constantly experiments for, on and with the image.
Closed to the public since October 2020, the Musée de l’Elysée is currently organizing its move to the heart of the new Lausanne arts district known as PLATEFORME 10, where it will join the new Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts (MCBA), inaugurated in October 2019. In a dedicated building, specially designed by Portuguese architects Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus, it will share the space with the Musée de design et d’arts appliqués contemporains (mudac).
On an unprecedented scale in both Switzerland and Europe, the PLATEFORME 10 project, led by the Canton of Vaud, the City of Lausanne and the CFF, has set itself the ambition of repositioning Lausanne as a city with an innovative emphasis on culture.
For the museum, this transition period is devoted to the inventory and move of its collections and archives, and the preparation of a new exhibitions program. It has also enabled the museum to reorient its identity and practices, so as to take into account issues like sustainable development, accessibility and eco-citizenship. This can be seen in the design of the new building’s public spaces, with a focus on awareness and forward-looking methods of cultural mediation. The building will also house spaces dedicated to the consultation of the museum’s collections, their restoration and the transmission of expertise in this field, as well as a shared library allowing access to its large collections of photographic books. The new site will also allow the museum to implement new management methods regarding its collections and archives and a complete reorganization in terms of administration practices.
The extensive exhibitions surface available to the Musée de l’Elysée will result in a space entirely dedicated to the presentation of its collections for the first time, where it can try out new presentation methods in an effort to better showcase the medium, as well as a programme of talks and discussions, open to all, focusing on current issues relating to the image.
The official handover ceremony for the new building shared by the Musée de l'Elysée and the mudac will take place from 4 to 7 November 2021. The official inauguration is scheduled for mid-June 2022 with a unique transversal and multidisciplinary exhibition, imagined and designed by teams from all three museums.