The museum’s collections
The Olympic Museum’s extraordinarily rich collections include items from all over the world, spanning the period from ancient times to the present day. The collections began to take shape in 1915, and have continued to grow and develop over the years. As with many museums dedicated to ideals, institutions and values, the Olympic Museum receives a large number of donations. New items incorporated into the museum’s collections are inventoried, photographed, properly stored and examined. This analysis and contextualisation of each item reveals its full meaning and can offer new insights into the worlds of sport, design and technology.
Public and private collections
- The Olympic Museum Collection has been developed to serve and promote the Olympic Movement. It is open to the public, and is a public collection, taking precedence over the private collections in terms of acquisition, curation, conservation and restoration.
- The IOC’s private collections are available on a controlled access basis. The items in these collections have been acquired by gestures of courtesy or in a diplomatic context. Items belonging to the first category will never be added to the Olympic Museum Collection; those in the second category may be added if they relate to the history of the International Olympic Committee as an international organisation (examples include a fragment of the Berlin Wall donated by the Mayor of Berlin, and a sculpture representing the bridge in the city of Mostar before it was destroyed during the 1995 war, presented to IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch on a trip to Sarajevo).
The five collections
The five collections that make up the museum’s public and private holdings are managed differently:
- The Olympic Museum Collection mainly includes artefacts from the Olympic Games, items illustrating the links between the IOC and the Olympic family, artworks related to sport or the Olympic Movement, and Olympic stamps and coins. Most of the Olympic Museum’s material, financial and human resources are devoted to this collection.
- The philatelic collection of former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch
- The private IOC collection
- The private collections of IOC Presidents, composed of gifts received in connection with the Presidents’ work. These must be preserved, at least while they are in office.
- Non-priority holdings that are not included in the collections as such. Some of these may relate to themes covered by the priority collections but are surplus to the museum’s requirements.