Lausanne, Switzerland: The Olympic Museum

Entrance to the museum in late 2011

Entrance to the museum in late 2011

Olympic Museum, Ouchy, Lausanne

By Vivienne Mackie,

The Showcase of the Olympic Movement

The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well”—Pierre de Coubertin

The Winter Olympics are taking place in Sochi, Russia, right now and, as we all know, there is much talk about the actual games and the security surrounding them. This gets many people thinking about what the games are, what their main goal is (Build a Better World Through Sport), and how they fit into modern life.

The idea of a museum dedicated to appreciating the Olympic idea goes back to Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the Olympic Games and founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Olympic Museum reflects the spirit of the games, which bring nations and people together.

The museum, which was inaugurated in 1993, was closed for renovation and extension in January 2012. After almost two years, it re-opened with its new look, the tag line: The New Olympic Museum—Keeping the Torch Burning.

View from the museum down over the gardens and to the lake

View from the museum down over the gardens and to the lake

We visited this lovely museum in late 2011, before it closed for extensive work, and I’m hoping to get back to it soon. It was a fascinating place then, so I wonder how they have expanded and improved it. The website tells us that the permanent exhibitions are now on 3 floors and incorporate the museum grounds. The Tom restaurant has been moved to the south side of the museum with a view over the lake and the Alps.

Details may have changed, but the beautiful location has not. The museum has an unusual architectural style on the side of a hill on the edge of Lake Geneva, in pretty gardens with many outdoor sculptures of athletes or related to the Olympics in some way.

One of the outdoor sculptures with a view over the lake

One of the outdoor sculptures with a view over the lake

It is home to interactive exhibitions, documents, films and unique collections of precious Olympic objects dating from Greek antiquity up until modern times. The museum is the largest information center on the subject of the Olympic Games in the world.

Thanks to computer technology, audiovisual media and presentations, and special effects, it’s possible for us to experience the Olympics almost as the athletes did, and to relive the highlights and memorable moments. The permanent and temporary exhibits document the history of the Games from antiquity to modern times, with stories of past Olympic Games and their champions, whether actual medal winners or not. We can also find out what sports there were and are, and the athletes for each; and find out the answers to such questions as, What is the Olympian Legacy? What are the Youth Olympic Games?

Besides the exhibitions, the museum houses an Olympic Studies Centre, a library, a video library, an education section, an auditorium, meeting rooms, a good restaurant and souvenir shop with an array of very tempting items! There’s also a terrace with a stunning view across to the Alps and down to Lake Geneva and the Olympic Park with its works of art. We found the gardens and the view worth a visit in their own right, besides the amazing exhibits inside. When we were there, the special exhibition was entitled “Hope”.

The museum runs a great website that is the official website of the Olympic Movement, covering everything and featuring past and potential champions this year:

For practical information visit the website:

Open daily 9-6 May 1-October 19; 10-6 rest of year, but closed Monday

Admission: CHF18 adults, CHF10 children, CHF16 seniors, other reductions possible.

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