A visit to the (new) History MuseumBy My-Lausanne
Lausanne has a rich historical past that fully deserves a brand new museum, and fittingly, the Musée Historique de Lausanne (MHL) reopened its doors in April. A guided tour with MyLausanne highlights all of the city's most important dates.
Situated just opposite the cathedral, the History Museum has undergone a face lift. Discreet from the outside, there is however a large window giving on to the foyer and a series of embellishments on the cream-coloured facade.
Only once inside does the full effect of the new museum become apparent, with a light, bright foyer in modern and understated tones of white and taupe. A strikingly successful balance. Staff are on hand to warmly welcome visitors and ensure they enjoy this newly upgraded attraction to the full.
The museum’s layout is clear right from the start of the visit. A timeline on a wall in the first corridor pinpoints important events in the town’s history, whilst on the opposite wall a variety of objects are displayed: an ancient religious headdress, a submarine from the national exhibition of 1964, a poster of Maurice Béjart… This type of arrangement reflects the town itself – surprising, varied but with an obvious unity nonetheless.
Thus “Lausanne, l’Exposition” (Lausanne, the Exhibition) is extremely well conceived. It tackles Lausanne from all its various aspects (including demography, transport, housing and tourism), seamlessly blending the various eras and with a wide-ranging collection of exhibits. Language and verbs in particular link the journey between pragmatism and poetry – to reside, to move, but also to flow…
The centrepiece of the Musée Historique remains the model of the town showcased in the centre of a specially designed room. All around, photos, canvases and tapestries represent the Lausanne landscape, whilst a window allows visitors to admire it for real. At ten-minute intervals, a presentation comprising commentary, light beams and screen describe how the historic centre of Lausanne came to be. Like the rest of the visit, this is simple, effective and understated.
Throughout the visit, it’s easy to appreciate all the renovation work that’s been done. The rooms interconnect and the historic and modern aspects of the building sit successfully side by side. Between two rooms housing the collection are windows affording a magnificent view over the lake and the rest of the city.
The exhibition also presents the city’s more recent history. The museum has chosen to treat the mediaeval towers as “skyscrapers” with the Taoua Tower project, and also addresses other themes such as spirituality and immigration.
The visit takes a short break in the Montfalcon garden where refreshments are available and visitors can have a drink and admire the city centre rooftops before ending their tour with the more contemporary history of Lausanne.
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Once outside in the Place de la Cathédrale, there’s only one thing you’ll want to do, and that’s stay in the Cité and discover even more…