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Awakening the senses

A cultural day in Geneva

Awakening the senses

A true cultural hub, Geneva unfolds its numerous museums and myriad galleries, theatres and concert halls in a relatively small area. Modern or contemporary art, oriental marvels, flights of lyricism or historical treasures, the city pampers the arts and offers a plethora of events throughout the year that will delight aesthetes of all backgrounds. Time has come to awaken the senses…

«Not a minute to lose, culture never sleeps!»

aube musicales
aube musicales

What better way to start the day than with a gentle sensory awakening at the Bains des Pâquis? The vibrant Aubes Musicales performances accompany the sunrise, combining art with astrology in an almost spiritual symbiosis. Enticing music or learned poetry, the Bains delicately echo the dawn and celebrate a lively folklore in the most beautiful of ways. After the show, enjoy a hearty and meditative breakfast at the Buvette des Bains to help you on your amazing cultural journey.

First, head towards Geneva’s SoHo, the Quartier des Bains, for extended immersion in museum waters. Primitive or contemporary art, photography or watchmaking, every street corner pours its culture into this lively central district. Following the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art in its heart in 1994, the semi-industrial district was flooded with a host of art galleries (Laurence Bernard, Xippas, Joy de Rouvre, etc.) showcasing up-and-coming artists from Switzerland and beyond, as well as cultural institutions and venues, all within walking distance of each other.

However, before approaching the art of today, it is customary to immerse oneself in the art of yesterday. Designed like a pagoda, the MEG (Geneva’s Ethnography Museum) offers a journey through time and space across five continents in a diaphanous atmosphere and presents the archives of human diversity in a particularly rich and gripping collection. Lose yourself in the meanders of time as you admire the sublime artefacts, bathed in a golden light that does them justice.

«Summer in Geneva is not lacking in culture»

The sun then guides you back to the present to discover the multiple modernities of art. MAMCO (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) and the CAC (Centre for Contemporary Art) are housed in an old disused factory, characterised by large paned windows, neon strips, machine tracks on the floor and high ceilings. Playful, provocative or contemplative, the works presented here tell the story of artistic experiments of the 20th and 21st centuries and feature some of the great names in art history as well as artists from the emerging Swiss and international scene.

The district also houses an exhibition space dedicated to the students of HEAD – Genève (School of Art and Design), LiveInYourHead. A place of experiment, work and encounters, this unique and multidisciplinary gallery bears witness to the hybridisation of art and offers as many visions of what an exhibition is today, showcasing the artists of tomorrow and their daring inventiveness.

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patek philippe museum
patek philippe museum

But the district offers more than a stroll through today’s art: watchmaking, the figurehead of Geneva’s luxury, also has its place here with the sumptuous Patek Philippe Museum, where the ticking of the most prestigious creations of the Geneva brand echoes, as well as an extraordinary collection of watches, musical automatons and enamels dating from the 16th to 19th century, in a goldsmith’s ambience that sparkles bright.

Once you’ve had your fill of these artistic adventures and contemporary museums, head over to Bongo Joe Records, Geneva’s cult record label and talent scout, whose arcade, located on the Quai de l’île, offers armchairs, plane trees, coffee and beer, as well as musical nuggets unearthed from the four corners of the globe. Much more than a music shop, Bongo Joe also offers concerts and discussions in an ultra-friendly atmosphere and is a must in Geneva’s cultural landscape.

After such a busy day, it’s best to leave the city’s countless cultural wonders for another day: the International Red Cross Museum for budding humanitarians, the Natural History Museum for nature-lovers or CERN for the science-minded. You can also look forward to the new theatre season, including the Comédie de Genève in its brand-new glass building at Eaux-Vives, or tap your feet at the doors of the many concert halls (alternative music at the Usine, multicultural at the Alhambra or classical at the Victoria Hall) while waiting for the multidisciplinary festivals to come, including the legendary Festival de La Bâtie.

Summer is not lacking in culture and the evenings will not leave you wanting, whether you’re looking to enjoy a film, a concert or a lively performance. A late night show under the stars at the Parc La Grange in front of the mythical Ella Fitzgerald Stage for the Musiques en été festival is the perfect way to put the cherry on this cultural cake, which you can finally stuff yourself with! A few notes of music echoing those of the morning’s dawn let the twilight escape and dream of tomorrow…