History, mission statement and collections

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Vue du Musée Jenisch Vevey. Photo Julien Gremaud

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Located in Vevey on the shores of Lake Geneva (one of the stages on the Romantic “Grand Tour”) the museum attracts visitors drawn by the heritage of Rousseau and Byron and also enjoys the support of art lovers of all kinds, from experienced connoisseurs to beginners. It owes its creation to a gift: as a mark of her gratitude towards a town in which she had spent many happy times with her husband, Fanny Jenisch (1801-1881), the widow of a senator from Hamburg, donates two hundred thousand gold francs to the town of Vevey to fund the construction of an encyclopaedic museum combining art and science.

Inaugurated in March 1897, the museum is built in a neo-classical style by the architects Maillard and Convert. A replica of the Parthenon frieze adorns its façade, while the entrance hall and main staircase have mosaic floors and are decorated with columns and statues based on models from Antiquity. In accordance with Fanny’s wishes the museum also houses a library, and welcomes generations of schoolchildren who come to discover its stuffed animals – including the famous giraffe – and attend drawing lessons. In the 1980s, the scientific collections are transferred to the cantonal zoology museum in Lausanne.

In 1989, the renovated museum becomes home to the Fondation Oskar Kokoschka and the Canton of Vaud prints collection. The departure of the municipal library in 2004 frees up a space on the lower level, enabling the now somewhat cramped museum to expand in order to accommodate its growing collections. 

After a three-year closure while renovation work was carried out, the fully refurbished and expanded Musée Jenisch Vevey reopened its doors in June 2012.  The architects, Bakker & Blanc of Lausanne, embedded the historic building in its modern context while remaining faithful to its past. Wherever possible, the aim was to restore the building to its original appearance, reflected in the mosaic floors and the coloration of the walls in the hall.  The Musée Jenisch Vevey has a strong identity and a unique atmosphere that Bakker & Blanc set out to preserve. Passing through the entrance hall with its remarkable epic décor, so redolent of Antiquity – columns, mouldings, Pompeii-style walls and frescoes by Ernest Biéler – visitors encounter the exhibition galleries in the modernised areas, in a deliberate departure from the historicising register.

A museum for works on paper

"A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment."

International Council of Museums (ICOM) definition of museums

 

Second art museum in the Canton of Vaud

The second largest art museum in the canton of Vaud, the Musée Jenisch Vevey presents a rich programme of temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection of paintings (Bocion, Courbet, Corot, Hodler, Vallotton, Picasso, Morandi, etc.), in a neoclassical setting located fifteen minutes by train from Lausanne. It houses an extraordinary collection of works on paper. In particular, the Cabinet cantonal des estampes (Cantonal Print Room) contains some 40,000 sheets from the Renaissance to the present day, making it one of the five most prestigious collections of engraved works in Switzerland. It also houses the most important collection of graphic works by Oskar Kokoschka in the world, as well as a collection of over 10,000 drawings. Inaugurated in 1897, the museum takes its name from the donor who made its creation possible, Fanny Jenisch (1801-1881). In a subtle dialogue between ancient and contemporary art, this institution is now dedicated to the promotion of works on paper.

 

Cabinet cantonal des estampes

Several stages led to the creation of the Cabinet cantonal des estampes. These included the role of artists and major collectors, as well as the opening of the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne in 1980, which is dedicated to the image and directed by Florian Rodari. Following the establishment of the Cabinet cantonal des estampes in 1986 by the State Council and its transfer to the Musée Jenisch Vevey in 1987 thanks to Bernard Blatter, the former director, supported by the successive presidents of the William Cuendet Foundation & Atelier de Saint-Prex, the Cabinet cantonal des estampes was inaugurated on 11 April 1989. With more than 35,000 works from the Renaissance to the present day, the Cabinet cantonal des estampes brings together three public collections and three collections deposited by two foundations and an association - the State of Vaud print collection and that of the City of Vevey, Professor Decker’s print fund, the William Cuendet & Atelier de Saint-Prex Foundation, the Pierre Aubert Foundation, the collection of the Alexis Forel Museum - all of which, through their generosity and trust, contribute to the promotion of printed art in our museum, which is now one of the five most important graphic arts cabinets in Switzerland, alongside those in Geneva, Basel and Zurich. In 30 years, no less than one hundred exhibitions devoted to prints have been organised at the Musée Jenisch Vevey.

 

Programm

The Musée Jenisch Vevey is dedicated to the promotion of works on paper from its collections. The exhibitions thus give pride of place to prints and drawings. The museum houses temporary exhibitions on the ground floor, while the permanent collection wing is located upstairs, presenting paintings by Bocion, Corot, Courbet, Hodler, Vallotton, Picasso, Morandi, Palézieux, etc.

 

The Pavillon de l’estampe, a central space located on the first floor, offers three temporary exhibitions per year, with a wide variety of works: ancient and contemporary engravings, original themes, monographic presentations, anthologies of collections, etc.

 

Finally, a wing of the floor is permanently dedicated to the expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka, whose Foundation is housed at the Musée Jenisch Vevey. A temporary exhibition is presented there every year.

 

Every two years, the museum hosts an exhibition of the Festival Images.

Collections

Since its inauguration in 1897, the museum has enriched its collections thanks to the support of its public. The very first work - inventory number 1 - a view of Lake Geneva by François Bocion was acquired by public subscription from the people of Vevey.

 

The museum then received generous donations and bequests, such as several paintings by Gustave Courbet offered by his sister Juliette in 1914, after the artist’s death in 1877 in La Tour-de-Peilz.

 

In the 1950s, the curator of the Musée Jenisch Vevey was François Daulte, the future director of the Fondation de l’Hermitage in Lausanne, who organised important exhibitions on Impressionism and the School of Paris (Renoir, Utrillo, Vuillard, etc.).

 

Bernard Blatter was director from 1983 to 2004 and gave the museum its letters of nobility. Reorganised during extensive works in 1988, the exhibition spaces, now freed from the natural science and zoology collections, could focus on the Fine Arts. By hosting the Kokoschka Foundation (founded in 1988) and the Cabinet cantonal des estampes (attached to the Vevey building since 1989), the Musée Jenisch became a cultural landmark of the canton.

 

Appointed director in 2004, Dominique Radrizzani, a drawing specialist, emphasised the strong presence of drawing in Vevey. He also opened the programme to contemporary art, with "carte blanche" exhibitions given to various artists.

 

Between 2013 and 2018, Julie Enckell Julliard, previously curator of modern and contemporary art, directed the museum, continuing to highlight the worlds of printmaking and drawing and extending the reflection on the place of paper in contemporary art.

 

Since her arrival in 2019, Nathalie Chaix has affirmed the institution’s position as a centre of excellence for the conservation and development of works on paper.

 

The collections of the Musée Jenisch are constituted by deposits of artists’funds (Lélo Fiaux, Wilhelm Gimmi, Jacques Pajak) and by important donations. It is thanks to private initiative, among other things, that the collection of drawings has been enriched with major pieces. In 1968, an important bequest from René de Cérenville added more than 150 old drawings, including several rare sheets by famous Italian Renaissance artists. In 2007, a collector left Vevey a collection of 400 drawings from the 18th century in France and Italy, a collection that is constantly being expanded. In 2014, Rudolf Schindler donated an exceptional collection of 632 drawings by Ferdinand Hodler to the museum. In 2019, the Fondation des Amis du Musée Jenisch donated its entire collection to the museum.

 

Permanent loans
Fondation Jacques Pajak
Fondation Lélo Fiaux
Fondation Wilhelm Gimmi
Collection d’art Nestlé

Fondation de la Société des Beaux-Arts de Vevey
Fondation pour les Arts et les Lettres
Fondation Gottfried Keller

The museum now houses temporary exhibitions on the ground floor, while the highlights of the museum - historical collections of paintings from the 16th century to contemporary creations, the Oskar Kokoschka Foundation space, prints and drawings - are on permanent display upstairs, thanks to regularly renewed hangings.


The Pavillon de l’estampe, a central space located on the first floor, offers three temporary exhibitions per year, with a wide variety of works: old and contemporary prints, original themes, monographic presentations, collections of prints, etc.

 

Historical highlights