Best Geneva museums

upd 30 January 2024

For a rather small city, Geneva has an impressive number of interesting museums. They cover a variety of topics: classical and modern art, ethnography, natural science, modern science, urban history, as well as narrower topics such as ceramics and watchmaking. All Geneva museums are actively developing, updating their exhibitions and adding multimedia elements. Almost everywhere you can find descriptions in both French and English. It’s also great that most of them are free.

Art museum – Musée d’Art et d’Histoire

Rue Charles-Galland, 2

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-18

Admission: free

An extremely interesting Musée d’art et d’histoire with exhibitions covering the period from Ancient Egypt to modern art. On the Fine Arts floor you can find paintings by Witz, Hodler, Picasso, and Monet. The rich collection allows to look at the development of art through time. The museum also provides an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with Swiss art and see the works of Swiss landscape and portrait painters.

Natural history museum

Route de Malagnou, 1

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10-17

Admission: free

Before visiting the Musée d’histoire naturelle, you need to be prepared for the fact that the entire exhibition consists of stuffed birds, mammals, and insects. You will see rare species of animals and follow their evolution, and the diversity of the animal world. This is the largest natural history museum in Switzerland that will be entertaining for both children and adults.

Science history museum

Rue de Lausanne, 128

Hours: Monday, Wednesday-Sunday 10-17

Admission: free

A small exhibition at the Musée d’histoire des sciences tells the story of the history of science, mainly through scientific instruments from different fields: electricity, biology, meteorology, and so on. Unfortunately, it lacks interactivity, and sometimes it’s not clear how most of the devices work. However, this is a good museum in a beautiful mansion in a lakeside park, so it’s worth a visit.

CERN

Espl. des Particules 1

Admission: free

CERN is an organization famous for creating the Large Hadron Collider. The Higgs boson was discovered here, the Internet was invented, and many other discoveries were made. CERN offers free tours of some of the complex’s facilities. You can sign up on the official website.

During the tour, you will be shown the collider control building, see the control room of this system, watch films and find out what CERN scientists are working on and what mysteries of physics they are trying to unravel. The first collider from 1957 will also be shown. You can go down to the collider itself only once a year, when tests are suspended.

After the tour, you can visit two exhibitions on your own, where CERN’s discoveries and the principles of nuclear research are explained in an interactive manner. There is also a store where themed products are presented, among the most unusual is an external souvenir disk with terabytes of information recorded from the collider.

Musée Ariana (glass and ceramics)

Avenue de la Paix, 10

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10-18

Admission: free

Musée Ariana is located in a beautiful building with an impressive interior. If you are interested in ceramics and glass, or historical interior, you should visit it.

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mamco – Modern art museum

Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers, 10

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 12-18, Weekend 11-18

Admission: free

The museum is located in a former factory. The exhibitions of local and European artists are constantly changing, so your impressions will depend on what exhibition currently takes place. There are usually many controversial paintings and installations.

MEG – Musée d’ethnographie de Genève

Boulevard Carl-Vogt, 65

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-18

Admission: free

The exhibition of the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève is dedicated to household items, ritual elements, musical instruments and other various things brought from all over the world. It will be interesting to those who love ethnography, anthropology and history, although the interactive elements and unusual exhibits will captivate any visitor.

Tavel House

Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre, 6

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-18

Admission: free

Maison Tavel exhibition tells about the history of Geneva, archaeological excavations, and household items. Helps to better understand what life was like in Geneva in the 19th century and before. The house itself is old and the interiors of different times were recreated. Don’t forget to look at the interactive story about the creation of Geneva to see how the city was built and developed over time.

Botanical garden

Hours: 08-21

Admission: free

Jardin Botanique is divided into several zones dedicated to a certain climatic zone, for example, a Japanese garden or tropical plants. Old large trees have also been preserved. This is a very beautiful and well-kept place, perfect for photographs. At the end, there is a small zoo with deer, birds and goats.

Patek Philippe museum

Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers, 7

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 14-18; Saturday 10-18

Admission: 10 CHF.

You can enter the museum only by pre-registration and on a guided tour, during which you will learn about the process of creating famous watches, shown the collection from the 16th to the 21st centuries, and will reveal the secrets of watchmaking art. This is a great museum for those interested in Swiss watches and their labor-intensive creation process.

Rath Museum

Place de Neuve, 1

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-18

Admission: depends on the exhibition

The Musée Rath serves as a venue for temporary art exhibitions. You can see exactly what currently takes place on the official website.

Wiki / Commons

International Museum of the Reformation

Rue du Cloître, 4

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10-17

Admission: 13 CHF

Calvin, one of the leaders of the Reformation, lived in Geneva, so many places in the city are associated with it. There is a special museum on the main square near the Cathedral. Here you can better learn about history and see key exhibits of those times.

Wiki / Commons

Baur Foundation

Rue Munier-Romilly, 8

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 14-18

Admission: 15 CHF

The exhibition consists of Asian art, mainly Chinese and Japanese. This is the largest Swiss museum dedicated to oriental art, with constantly changing exhibitions.

Wiki / Commons

International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

Avenue de la Paix, 17

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10-17

Admission: 15 CHF.

The exhibition occupies the same buildings as the offices of the Red Cross organization. The permanent exhibition tells about the activities of the organization and movement from the beginning of its foundation to the present day. It also highlights the major issues that the Red Cross is struggling with and tell the stories of real people.

Flickr / Henk Bekker

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