Opened in 1993 and partially updated in 2001, The Olympic Museum is in need of renovation. Major renovation, modernisation and expansion work is needed to ensure that it remains attractive to visitors from Switzerland and other countries for the next 20 or 30 years. At the same time, its unique character must be preserved, as well as the building’s magnificent surroundings. The Olympic Review talked to Francis Gabet, Director of the Olympic Museum, about the Museum 2020.
Can you outline the Museum 2020 project?
This major renovation scheme is being launched nearly 20 years after the opening of the Museum in 1993. The exhibition areas – which were state-of-the-art at the time, with interactive exhibits and audiovisual facilities – no longer meet today’s needs. Moreover, recent Games have brought us new heroes and stories to tell every two years, and our museum resources need updating. The building also needs to be brought into line with new standards, while the restaurant and school reception infrastructures need to be expanded. The grounds are also being redesigned, and a pedestrian walkway is being built between the Elysée Museum and the Olympic Museum to facilitate access and create a large garden area; the whole complex will feature a mix of artworks and sports facilities.
How long will the Museum remain closed?
It will shut on 29 January 2012 and is scheduled to re-open in October 2013.
Will it be possible to visit the Museum during this period?
No, it won’t be possible, the scale of the works means that the Museum has to close down completely. A temporary Museum on a paddlesteamer boat moored in front of the existing building will enable visitors to view some of the collections from the beginning of May until the end of October 2012. We will also maintain our presence overseas: touring exhibitions are already planned for London, Qatar, Rio and France. Our extensive collections enable us to loan items for exhibitions all over the world.
What will become of the Olympic Study Centre, which is also in the Museum building?
The Olympic Study Centre will be permanently relocated to the Villa du Centenaire, right next door to the Museum, at the beginning of 2012. During the work on the main building, researchers and students will continue to have access to the Study Centre, the Library and the stamp and coin collections.
What will be the main innovations in the new Museum?
The permanent exhibition area will be presented on a thematic rather than chronological basis, and will increase in size from 2,000m2 to 3,000m2. New themes will be developed to reflect the development of the sports world. Temporary exhibitions will be more specialised, curated in partnership with other institutions.
There will be two learning zones dedicated to school groups with specially designed programmes. In addition, new meeting and seminar areas are being created to allow us to old events without inconveniencing the Museum visitors and the gardens that surround the Museum are also being redesigned.