The 5 best museums in Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva museums

Museums in Geneva

Geneva is a major cultural center, where among other attractions you can visit the museums of Geneva, for example – Museum of Patek Philippe watches, which are made here. In the Museum of Art and History you can admire the paintings of famous impressionist painters.

For convenience, you can download a guide to Geneva for your iPhone – it has all the detailed information, including the museums of Geneva. And geolocation and work completely offline will make it easy to find the right museum or attraction. For convenience, several routes around Geneva are made.

Musée Rath – Art Museum of Geneva

Since 1910, only special exhibitions have been held here.

The museum building was built in 1824-26 designed by architect Samuel Vaucher.

General Simon Rath (1779-1819) bequeathed a large sum to his sisters Jeanne and Henriette “to create something useful for his country that would bear his name.” The sisters decided to build a museum.

The Musée Rath was the first purpose-built art museum in Switzerland. At first the museum was used for permanent exhibitions, cultural meetings and art education. From 1880 onwards the museum became too small for permanent collections. So since the opening of the d´Art et d´Histoire (art and history museum), the Musée Rath has specialized in temporary thematic exhibitions.

  • Opening hours: Fri-Sun 10-18.
  • To get there: by foot from the river from Tour-de-l´Ile or by bus (3 or 5) or streetcar (12 or 17) to the Place Neuve stop.
  • Entrance: adults CHF 10, students CHF 5, children under 18 free.

Maison Tavel

“Maison Tavel” with its Gothic tower. It’s the oldest surviving building in old Geneva. The house was built in 1303 and had to be slightly rebuilt in 1334 after a fire. It underwent several further transformations before opening as a museum in 1986. The building now houses the Musee du Vieux Geneve, the Museum of Old Geneva. It presents a historical collection of their Geneva from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th century. The museum displays a model of Geneva from 1850. The model was made at the end of the 19th century by A. Manen at a scale of 1:250.

The front wall is typical of the 17th century, with gray painting and white seams and towering stone sculptures. Inside is a courtyard, a 13th-century cellar and a garden.

  • Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10-18, Mon-Fri closed.
  • Address: Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre 6
  • To get there: bus 36 to the Hôtel-de-Ville stop Telephone: 022 418 37 00
  • Entrance: permanent exhibition free, temporary exhibitions – 3 / 2CHF. Free for children under 18.

Musée d´Art et d´Histoire

Museum of Art and History

This is the most important of all Geneva’s museums and contains prehistoric relics, Greek vases, medieval stained glass, weapons from the 12th century, Swiss chronometers, Flemish and Italian paintings, Etruscan pottery and medieval furniture, as well as the largest collection of Egyptian art in Switzerland. The gallery also presents works by such masters as Rodin, Renoir, Hodler, Picasso, Chagall, Corot, Monet and Pizarro.

  • Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon-Fri closed.
  • Admission: permanent exhibition – free, temporary exhibitions – CHF 5 – 3.
  • To get there: take bus 7 to the stop of the Musée d´art et d´histoire or bus 36 to St-Antoine.
  • Address: Musée d´art et d´histoire Rue Charles-Galland 2 1206 Genève Tel. +41 22 418 26 00 mah(at)

Musée D´Histoire Naturelle

Museum of Natural History.

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In this museum you can see a huge number of exhibits of various Swiss flora and fauna. It is the largest museum of its kind in Switzerland. Four floors are occupied by animals, birds, reptiles, insects, minerals and many others. This museum is very popular, especially among children, who enjoy the many interactive screens and full-size models of dinosaurs.

  • Opening hours: Tue – Sat 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon – Fri closed. Holidays: Closed December 25 and January 1. Library: Tue – Fri from 2 to 5 pm.
  • Entrance: free.
  • Guided tours: 95 francs for groups of over 15 people, 60 francs for groups of under 15 people (1 hour), 50 francs for groups of under 15 people (45 minutes).
  • Address: Muséum d´histoire naturelle 1 route de Malagnou CH-1208 Genève, Suisse
  • To get there: bus 5 (Muséum stop). Bus 1 to 8 (stop Tranchées & Muséum). Streetcar 12 (stop Villereuse). Parking Villereuse.

Musée International de la Réforme

International Museum of the Reformation.

Here you will find interesting facts about the spread of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The movement began in Geneva under the leadership of the famous Reformer Jean Calvin and had a huge impact on religion, culture and philosophy. The museum is connected with St. Peter’s Cathedral by an underground gallery.

  • Opening hours: Fri-Sun 10-17, Mon-Fri closed. Holidays: closed 24th, 25th and 31st December and 1st January. Special working days on Mondays: Easter Monday, Monday after Trinity.
  • Admission: adults CHF 13, pensioners and students 16-25 years old CHF 8, children 7 – 16 years old CHF 6, children under 7 years old free. Audioguide: French, German, English – free of charge. Combined ticket with Espace Saint-Pierre (Museum of the Reformation, Archaeological excavations and towers of the Cathedral): adults CHF 18, pensioners and students 16 – 25 years – CHF 12, children 7 – 16 years – CHF 10, children under 7 years – free. Currency of payment: francs and euros.
  • To get there: From Cornavin railway station take bus 8 towards Veyrier to the Rive stop, then walk through the old town. Bus 36 to the Cathédrale stop. Bus 2, 7 and 20 go to the Molard stop. Streetcar 12 or 16 to the Molard stop. Parking Saint-Antoine and Mont-Blanc .
  • Address: 4, rue du Cloître Cour Saint-Pierre 1204 Geneva

Musée Patek Philippe

The Patek Philippe Watch Museum

Swiss watches are world famous, so it’s no surprise to find a museum dedicated to them in Geneva. Rare and unique examples of watches made in Switzerland and Europe between the 16th and 20th centuries are on display here. On the screen you can watch a detailed history of the watchmaking industry in Switzerland.

  • Admission: adults – CHF 10, seniors and students 18 – 25 years – CHF 7, groups from 10 people – CHF 5, children under 18 – free. With Passeport Musée(AMS/VMS), ICOM, Swiss Pass, STS, Euro cards
  • Opening hours: Fri-Fri 14 – 18, Sat 10 – 18. Closed on public holidays. Guided tours – by appointment.
  • To get there: buses 1 and 4 to the Ecole-de-Médecine stop. Streetcars 12 and 13 to the Plainpalais stop. Parking Plainpalais.
  • Address: Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 7 CH – 1205 Geneva

Musée d´Ethnographie de Genève (MEG)

Museum of Ethnography of Geneva.

The Musée d´Ethnographie de Genève, or MEG for short, is the second largest ethnographic museum in Switzerland. It has a collection of over 100,000 objects from all over the world of great cultural importance.

The museum opened in 1901 and has enjoyed enormous popularity ever since.

  • Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon-Fri closed.
  • Admission: Free on the first Sunday of the month. Groups: 3 CHF.
  • To get there: Line 8 to the Calandrini stop.
  • Address: MEG | Carl-Vogt Boulevard Carl-Vogt 65, 1205 Genève Tél. +41 (0)22 418 45 50 Fax +41 (0)22 418 45 51 Email [email protected]

Institut et Musée Voltaire

The Institut et Musée Voltaire plays an important role in the cultural life of Geneva. The great French writer and philosopher Voltaire lived in Geneva from 1755 to 1765 in this building, which is part of Les Délices. In the museum you will learn more about the life and work of Voltaire and see a complete collection of his masterpieces.

  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri 2-5pm. Opening is possible in the morning for groups.
  • Entrance: free.
  • To get there: Bus 27, stop Musée Voltaire. Bus 6 or 19 – Prairie stop. Bus 7 or 11 – stop Délices. Parking Ecole d´ingénieurs (rue de la Prairie).
  • Address: Institut et Musée Voltaire Rue des Délices 25

Musée d´Histoire des Sciences

History of Science Museum.

This is one of the best museums in Geneva where you can discover the history of science. There is an enormous collection of scientific instruments and other objects from Geneva’s scientific life in the 17th to the 19th centuries. You can also find documents confirming the greatest scientific achievements ever made in Switzerland.

  • Opening hours: Sunday to Friday 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday closed. Holidays: December 25 and January 1 – closed. Library: Mon and Wed 9 – 12 and 14 – 17, Fri 9 – 13, Tues and Thu – closed.
  • Admission: Museum and exhibitions – free. Guided tours – from FF 110 per hour (max. 20 persons). Registration is necessary at least 15 days before the visit.
  • To get there: Bus 1 to Sécheron station. Streetcar 15 to Butini & France stop. Bus 11-28 to the stop Jardin botanique. Take the M4 motorboat to the Châteaubriand stop. From Genève Cornavin railway station, 15 minutes on foot. Genève Sécheron train station, 5 minutes on foot.
  • Address: Musée d´Histoire des sciences Parc de La Perle du Lac 128 rue de Lausanne CH-1202 Genève, Suisse Tel. +41 22 418 50 60 Fax +41 22 418 50 61 Email [email protected]

Musée Ariana

This museum houses a large collection of ceramics and glass: over 20,000 objects spanning 12 centuries. It’s one of the few museums in Europe to house a collection of ceramics from around the world. The museum building itself is one of the best examples of neoclassical and neo-baroque architecture in Geneva.

  • Opening hours: Tuesdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays closed.
  • Entrance: Permanent collection – free of charge. Temporary exhibitions – CHF 5 (preferential – CHF 3). Free for children up to 18 and the first Sunday of the month.
  • To get there: Bus 5, 8, 11, 18, 22, streetcar 15, stop Genève, Nations. Train station Genève-Sécheron.
  • Address: Musée Ariana Avenue de la Paix 10 CH-1202 T +41(0)22 418 54 54 F +41(0)22 418 54 51 [email protected]

Musée International de la Croix-Rouge

International Museum of the Red Cross.

The museum was opened in 1988 in memory of those who for 140 years helped people under the auspices of the Red Cross. The museum is divided into 11 sections dedicated to the history, development and work of the Red Cross. It contains facts and documents, video slides, photographs and sculptures. Closed until 2013.

Baur Foundation.

This is the largest museum in the country dedicated to Asian art. It is located in a beautiful 19th century mansion owned by Alfred Baur, an art collector. Asian art is filled with a lot of symbols and there is something mystical about it. Here you can take a closer look at rare works of Chinese and Japanese art from the last 13 centuries. There are also Chinese ceramics and snuff bottles, engravings, Japanese lacquer, netsuke, ivory objects and much more.

  • Opening hours: Tues-Sun 14 – 18, Wed 14 – 20 (for guided tours during temporary exhibitions), Mon – closed.
  • Entrance: Adults: CHF 10, Students, Pensioners and unemployed – CHF 5, Children up to 16 – free, Groups over 10 – CHF 5, Exhibition Specials – CHF 15 (reduced rate – CHF 10).
  • To get there: Bus 1 and 8 to the Florissant stop Bus 36 to the Eglise russe stop Parking Saint-Antoine
  • Address: Baur Foundation, Museum of Far Eastern Art 8 rue Munier-Romilly 1206 Geneva – Switzerland Tel: +41 22 704 32 82 Fax: +41 22 789 18 45 Email: [email protected]

Geneva Photography Centre

The Geneva Photographic Centre is the only one of its kind in Geneva. The concept of the museum is to promote photography as a trend in art. A dozen exhibitions are held every year at the center. The photographers presented here reflect the real life of the city.

  • Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.
  • Admission: Adults CHF 5, Students, Pensioners – CHF 3. Free for children under 18. Free to members of the Centre de la Photografie Genève (CPG), de l´Amamco, du Centre d´art contemporain (CAC); specialized students (photography, art history, fine arts, decorative arts); journalists.
  • To get there: Take bus 1 to the Ecole-de-Médecine stop. Streetcar 13 and 15 to the Place du Cirque stop. Streetcars 12 and 17 to the Rond-Point de Plainpalais stop. Parking: Plainpalais.
  • Address: Centre de la photographie Genève Bac – Bâtiment d´art contemporain 28, rue des Bains, CH – 1205 Genève T: + 41 22 329 28 35 F: + 41 22 320 99 04 Email: [email protected]

Museum of Modern Art (MAMCO)

This museum was founded in 1994 in a former industrial building. Its three floors house a fine collection of European modern and contemporary art from the 1960s onwards. All the items were donated by private collectors and artists.

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In Geneva, where the accuracy of the passage of time is elevated to a cult like nowhere else, you feel that the past is just as important as the future. One way to go back a few decades or centuries is to go to one of the museums. There are more than 30 in Geneva, but I’ll tell you about the most interesting ones.

The Patek Philippe Museum

At the Patek Philippe Watch Museum, you should come for inspiration and leave with a feeling of mild envy. It is difficult to imagine how much such a huge collection of watches, the most prestigious and expensive watch brand in the world, can cost in a museum, if each of the exhibits can easily leave the auction for several tens of thousands of euros at least. The museum has four floors of rarities that represent 500 years of watchmaking history – the owners of the brand do not spare money to replenish the collection. Chronometers, bracelets, pendants, caskets, wristwatches, pocket watches – absolutely all variations from the geniuses of watch design are presented behind the windows.

It is difficult to single out the most expensive from the huge collection to direct you to look at a masterpiece – there is also the very first wristwatch bracelet from 1868, there is a chronograph Calibre 89, which has the most complicated watch mechanism in the world, consisting of more than 1700 details. These watches were launched on the occasion of the brand’s 150th anniversary. Besides clocks you can also visit the room where you can see music boxes and admire enamel decorations. There is also a library with over 7 thousand books about watchmaking in the museum.

  • Cost of admission: CHF 10. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 14.00 to 18.00, Saturday from 10.00 to 18.00

Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

Peace in its fullest meaning is here at the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva. It is a story of defending human dignity, sometimes written in bloody lines, imbued with human pain and suffering. All the exhibits in the museum, which are located in 11 halls, carry only one important message: “Human dignity implies respect for human life and its inviolability”. A simple layman cannot leave the museum – it is impossible to remain indifferent, seeing how hard it is for many people.

The history of humanitarian organization is told by 12 holographic witnesses – contemporaries, people of different ages, religious confessions, nationalities and destinies. Earthquake victims, victims of political repression, refugees and human rights activists tell the story of the Red Cross Movement, founded by Swiss Henri Dunant. The Red Cross is now active in 183 countries around the world, with more than 100 million volunteers, who provide all necessary assistance to those in distress.

  • The cost of the admission ticket is CHF 15. The ticket price includes an audio guide in Russian. The museum is open from 10.00 to 18.00 in summer and to 17.00 in winter. Closed Mondays.

MED Ethnographic Museum

A visit to the MED is nothing short of a round-the-world trip in 80 minutes. There are totems, totems, sculptures of deities and traditional outfits on the stands under mundane glass. The museum’s collection has a total of more than 80,000 objects, 300,000 documents representing 1,500 different cultures. But only about a thousand exhibits are on public display. However, from time to time rarities are taken out of the storerooms and replaced with them those that have already been on display. MED can be safely called a museum of new times. Its exposition is located in a new modern building; the halls are illuminated with a complex lighting, which adds to the mystery.

The museum hosts a huge number of events – interesting exhibitions, lectures, seminars and workshops. Most of them, however, are in French. On the top floor there is a public library where you can occupy yourself by reading books on ethnography, looking through albums and listening to the traditional music of different peoples. In addition to the permanent exhibition called “Archive of Human Differences”, the MED always has temporary exhibitions. Until 2017, in the great hall is presented a short introduction to Amazonian shamanism, where will be exhibited 400 ritual objects of aborigines, feather headdresses, musical instruments and many photographs.

  • Cost of admission: free of charge. Admission to the temporary “Amazonia” exhibition, which runs until January 8, 2017, is CHF 9. The ticket price includes an audio guide in Russian. The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Mondays.

Museum of Modern Art – MAMCO

The collection of works of modern artists in Geneva is situated in the building of the former physical laboratory, so all MAMCO exhibitions are one big research of the possibilities of human perception. The local museum of perfect art is the youngest in Switzerland, the curators of the exhibitions are not afraid of experiments, so every exhibition is an experiment with forms and styles. The expositions change 4 times a year, and the artists whose works will be exhibited at the MAMSO are trusted to design the exhibitions themselves. The permanent collection is based on objects owned by promoter and ad man Philip Thomas, who sincerely believed that anyone could make art. The most fun part of visiting the museum is in the company of young artists who give private tours on weekends.

Of the many exhibits we want to highlight – a timer counting down the remaining time until the explosion of the Sun. Now it shows numbers about 5 billion years without a penny. By the way, this object, paradoxically enough, is powered by solar panels. The installation of neon lights on the stairs, reflection on living in two dimensions on the first floor and a lot of new objects made of used paper and garbage also attract attention. Around the museum there are a number of art galleries, which is quite convenient if you want more emotions and reflections after your visit to MAMSO.

  • Admission price: CHF 8. The ticket price includes an audio guide in Russian. The museum is open from 11.00 to 18.00. Closed Mondays.


The museum is rather a small bonus for those who did not manage to get to the European Center for Nuclear Physics Research – CERN. An organization where physicists from around the world study the secrets of the universe while the Large Hadron Collider is in operation. Although tours of CERN are completely free – you have to sign up for the group in advance. A small consolation can be Microcosm, a small museum that is incredibly cool to see a complete picture of CERN’s work. In the museum you can learn all the facts about the collider, see the first article by Peter Higgs with the theory of the Higgs ozone creatures, which was discovered at CERN in 2012.

You can ask all your questions directly to CERN employees, who will tell you about life and work at the Center from large screens. In the museum hall, you can see a huge model of the Atlas detector, which looks more like a spaceship or consider a pocket elementary particle gas pedal. Across the street from the museum – you can go to the Globe Pavilion – where every half hour a film is shown about the exploration of the Universe in an unreal space atmosphere.

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