Olympic Museum Lausanne
ABOVE: Garden of the Musée Olympique Lausanne. INSET BELOW: The Olympic flame burns in The Cauldron.
If you're like most of the billion or so people who follow the Olympics on TV, you've grown up with memories of iconic events and performances from a lifetime of watching the summer and winter games. So it stands to reason that any trip to Switzerland's Lac Léman region should include a visit to the Olympic Museum Lausanne, near the International Olympic Committee's world headquarters.
The current museum, which grew out of a collection dating back to 1915, opened in 1993 and has more than 87,000 objects in a modern, well-equipped building on the shores of Lake Geneva.
The museum's Olympic Park is also worth a stroll. The attractively landscaped grounds are dotted with sculptures, fountains, and pavilions that range from the whimsical (Niki de Saint-Phalle's colorful Footballers) to André Ricard's The Cauldron, with its eternal Olympic Flame.
The Olympic Museum Lausanne's exhibits span a range of more than 2,200 years, starting with the ancient Greek games and continuing with the modern Olympic Games from 1896 to the present day.
High points include the complete collection of Olympic Torches and the Olympic Medals (which, interestingly enough, weren't hung around the necks of victors until the Rome Olympics of 1960).
Other items that are permanently on display include Carl Lewis's "golden shoes" from the Los Angeles Olympics (1984), Chris Boardman's revolutionary bike from Barcelona (1992), Eric Heiden's record-breaking speed skates (Lake Placid, 1980), a four-man Swiss bobsleigh (Sarajevo, 1984), and the skis, boots, goggles, helmet, and suit that Jean-Claude Killy wore when he won three downhill gold medals (also on display) at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France.
In addition to these and other permanent exhibitions, the Olympic Museum has a frequently changing array of temporary exhibitions about the Olympics and other sport-related topics.
The museum is also well-equipped with multimedia features: For example, you can watch high-definition films in the 45-seat 3D Theatre, search for popular video clips from past winter or summer Olympics, or--if you're really compulsive--explore some of the 430,000 photos, 17,500 hours of film footage, and 18,000 books in the Olympic Studies Centre.
For pictures of museum exhibits, see page 2 of this article.
Hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m daily. (Closed Mondays except Easter Monday from October 1 - April 30; also closed on December 25 and January 1.)
Location: In Lausanne's Olympic Park, along the lakefront on the quai d'Ouchy. (Look for the Olympic Fountain, then follow the gently sloping path up to the museum or use the outdoor escalator.)
Accessibility: The museum is fully accessible to wheelchairs, is equipped with toilets for disabled visitors, and has rest areas in the building and the surrounding park.
Visitor facilities: The museum has a shop and a very pleasant restaurant with a terrace. (The restaurant is popular with locals for Sunday lunch.) You also picnic in the Olympic Park.
Next page: Olympic Museum exhibit photos
Top photo copyright © ST/Swiss-Image.ch. Photographer: J. Donatsch
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