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Geneva also has its own beautiful art museums despite Basel’s status as Switzerland’s cultural capital with Art Basel and Fondation Beyeler. Founded by Gustave Revilliod, the Ariana Museum (Musée Ariana) is a tourist attraction in Geneva, Switzerland. Built at the end of the 19th century, the Musée Ariana is an incredible architectural masterpiece. Musée Ariana brings together Geneva’s ceramics and glass collections. Musée Ariana is the Swiss Museum for Ceramics and Glass Geneva.
Musée Ariana is part of the Association of Art and History Museums (Musée d’art et d’histoire) in Geneva. The museum is dedicated to porcelain, stained glass, and glassware. Other museums in the Association of Art and History Museums include:
- Musée Rath (special exhibitions)
- Maison Tavel (history of Geneva)
- Musée de l’Horlogerie et de l’Émaillerie (timepieces and enamels)
Why Musée Ariana is Worth Visiting: 8 Things That Make You Love It
1. You can get inside Musée Ariana for free
The best thing about Musée Ariana is that you can visit its permanent collections for free. It’s also free to visit on the first Sunday of every month. Furthermore, all youths under 18 get in for free. The only charge is for temporary exhibitions.
You can also visit Ariana Park (Parc de l’Ariana) for free if you don’t want to or have already seen the museum. Lawns are well-maintained and statues surround the place.
2. Musée Ariana is easy to reach from Geneva’s City Center
As Switzerland’s second-most populous city, Geneva is one of the most sought-after destinations. Travelers from all over would love to visit Geneva. Despite not being right near the lake, Musée Ariana is still pretty easy to get to. On the right-hand side of the lake, it’s about 12 minutes from the city.
Getting to Musée Ariana is as easy as taking the bus or tram to Nations or Appia stops. You can also take the Léman-Express and get off at Genève-Sécheron.
3. Musée Ariana is housed in a magnificent building
Musée Ariana was built on Gustave Revilliod’s estate and stands today thanks to his generosity. Gustave Revilliod was an accomplished author, historian, humanist, philanthropist, traveler, and collector. Throughout his life, he collected pieces and kept them in his house. Eventually, he decided to build a museum to house his entire collection. His will bequeathed the museum to Geneva.
Designed in Neo-Classical and Neo-Baroque styles, Ariana Museum was completed in 1884. The outside facade is decorated with columns, niches, and famous artists. With its elliptical great hall, this building will remind you of both a basilica and a palace. Since its opening, Musée Ariana and its surrounding park have been visited by people all over the world.
With two side wings, the building looks quite symmetrical inside. On the bottom floor, there are red marble pillars and on the upper floor, there are twisted columns of varying designs. Sadly, there’s no grand staircase leading up to the second floor. Take the lift or stairs on the left side of the building instead.
4. Musée Ariana has an extensive collection of ceramics
Musée Ariana has 28,000 objects, 90% of which are ceramics. The ceramics range from the 9th century to the present. In the Ariana Museum, you’ll find ceramic vessels, plates, small tableaux, decorated statues, and cups.
Among the objects on display is tin-glazed earthware brought to Europe from the Middle East in the 8th century. Maiolica is what it’s called in Italy, where engravings and illustrations decorate it. Similar to Chinese porcelain, tin-glazed earthenware was produced in Delft, the Netherlands.
In the museum, you can also see Chinese porcelain, which is dominated by blue and white. Typically, it has flower and bird motifs in the center. East Asian Ceramics at Musée Ariana makes one of the best collections of Far Eastern art in Switzerland.
Eventually, Europe started making porcelain too, centuries after Chinese porcelain was famous. The Meissen manufactory built very high-quality white porcelain, which is still around today. Meissen is famous for its matching services, Commedia dell’arte figures, and chinoiseries. France’s Sèvres also started making beautiful porcelain later in the 18th century.
5. Musée Ariana exhibits beautiful glass
Approximately 10% of the museum’s objects are stained glass or glass objects. The glass collection includes hand-blown glass from Murano, Venice. They also have Flühli pieces from Switzerland’s Entlebuch region.
In the bays of the side wings, stained glass windows have been incorporated into the museum’s architecture. A Bernese glassmaker, Johann Heinrich Müller, was commissioned by Gustave Revilliod to make it. The displays are there all the time for visitors to see.
6. Children are very much welcome at Musée Ariana
We were greeted friendly by the staff at the Musée Ariana as soon as we walked in. A treasure map was handed to us so the kids could compete.
That was fun. Together, we recreated the Portuguese tiles tile panel puzzle. After that, we found the answers in the booklet by going around Ariana Park. From the front desk, my kids received a gift for participating in the treasure hunt.
7. Musée Ariana has a park, a library, a shop, and a café too
You can relax and enjoy nature at Parc de l’Ariana. Enjoy a peaceful walk in the park with beautiful trees and fountains.
There are a lot of small sculptures around, like those of Gustave Revilliod and Mahatma Gandhi. In addition, there’s a granite lantern and a Japanese bell.
Besides the museum, they have a library where you can borrow titles. At the museum reception desk, you can get audio guides in French, English, and German. For those who get hungry, Comptoir Gourmand on the first floor has a snack bar and hot drinks.
8. Modern Art is supported by Musée Ariana
Additionally, the Musee Ariana hosts temporary exhibitions to support modern art. During our visit, Jeanne Rimbert had a temporary exhibit called “Oh les beaux jours!“
It was fun to see pop art with animals and objects like a koala, a bird, a whale, a rabbit, and a squid. I had a blast in that room.
How to Get to Musée Ariana
Musée Ariana is still pretty easy to get to. You can come by bus, train, or tram. It is also a short walk from the United Nations Office in Geneva.
|Address||Avenue de la Paix 10|
Tuesdays – Sundays, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
|By Bus||Genève, Appia (Bus 8, 20, 28, F)|
Genève, Nations (Bus 5, 8, 20, F)
|By Tram||Genève, Nations (Tram 15)|
Final Thoughts: Musée Ariana
Thanks to Gustave Revilliod, we now have a chance to explore ceramics and glass art in this wonderful building called Musée Ariana.
In my opinion, Musée Ariana in Geneva is definitely worth a visit. Both the museum and the surrounding park are relaxing and interesting. I love that we can explore it for free.
If you would like to find more activities to do in Geneva, you can also check out GetYourGuide.com.
- Jeanne Rimbert: Oh les beaux jours! Musée Ariana. Swiss Museum for Ceramics and Glass Geneva.
- The Ariana’s Very Good Plan. Swiss Museum for Ceramics and Glass Geneva.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.