Fascinating Museums of Photography in Switzerland

Jul 25, 2019 | Museums

Photography is one of the most popular mediums for creating art. It is also one of the most accessible forms of expression, such as brightening up a room, invoking conversation, or bring out one’s emotions and feelings.

Photography can be used to meet any genre such as still life, street photography, documentary-style, landscape, nude, portrait, as well as using a particular style, lens, or type of lighting. If you want to see through the lens of a photographer, we advise you to visit three amazing museums in Switzerland.

Musée de l’Elysée

Address: Avenue de l’Elysée 18, Lausanne
Opening Hours: 11h00 – 18h00 (Tuesday-Sunday)
Tickets: Free admission until its temporary closure in October 2020

Located in Lausanne, the Musée de l’Elysée is the first museum in Europe that is entirely dedicated to photography. It was founded in 1985 by Charles-Henri Favrod in an 18th century mansion, surrounded by magnificent gardens and along the shores of Lake Geneva.

The museum’s collection houses 1.2 million objects that cover the history of photography. On the four floors of the museum, there are eight different exhibition spaces. The museum offers visitors the chance to see the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. The Musée de l’Elysée also organizes several travelling exhibitions around the world each year.

Here, one can see color photographs taken by the pioneer Gabriel Lippmann, contemporary photography captured by Jeff Wall, original photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, and recordings by Francis Frith, Robert Capa, John Phillips, and Marco Giacomelli. There are also works by several Swiss photographers such as Nicolas Bouvier, Adolphe Braun, Ella Maillart, and Hans Steiner. One of the most notable attractions here is an entire collection of photos from the collection of Charlie Chaplin, the iconic filmmaker and comic actor.

Winterthur Photo Museum

Grüzenstrasse 44+45, Winterthur
Opening Hours:
11h00-18h00 (Tuesday–Sunday), 11h00-20h00 (Wednesday)
Tickets: 10 CHF each (concessions 8 CHF)
Free admission for children and individuals up to the age of 16
Free entry on Wednesdays from 17h00 to 20h00

Opened in 1993 in a former factory, the Winterthur Photo Museum exhibits everything related to the art of photography. It has a vast contemporary collection of photographs and works by famous photographers and artists from the 19th century to the present day.

The museum’s permanent collections include works by Vanessa Beecroft, Larry Clark, Hans Danuser, Nobuyoshi Araki, Paul Graham, Lewis Baltz, William Eggleston, and Nan Goldin. Other photographers are also on display for visitors to enjoy. Today, the museum houses about 8,000 photographic objects in its archives, including black and white photographs, print works, posters, artists’ books, digital and analogue imagery, projections, and installations.

In 2003, the Winterthur Photo Museum teamed up with the Swiss Foundation for Photography, creating a unique center of excellence for photography. Since the founding of this collaboration, new sections from the extensive collection are presented in five large-scale exhibitions each year.

Centre de la photographie Genève

Geneva Photography Center

Address: Rue des Bains 28, Geneva
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday from 11 AM-6 PM
Tickets: 5 CHF
3 CHF (reduced price for students, apprentices, artists, and groups of 10)

Free admission for individuals up to the age of 18, Members of the Centre of Photography Geneva, the Amamco, the Centre of Contemporary Art, specialized students (photography, art history, fine arts, decorative arts), and journalists.

Free entrance is available for the first Sunday of each month.

Founded in 1984, the Geneva Photography Center (GPC) is dedicated to fine art photography, with an emphasis on urbanism, documentary-style, and visual culture. About 4-7 monographic or thematic exhibitions are held each year at this center. Since 2003, the GPC has organized the 50JPG (50 Jours pour la photographie à Genève) photography triennial, in collaboration with museums, art centers, galleries, and libraries. Many of the artists featured at the GPC are locals who are trying to reflect on the modern life of Geneva.