What could be more logical, in the Olympic Capital, than to visit the museum dedicated to the Games… 3… 2… 1… GO! This museum retraces the history of the greatest modern multi-sports competition, from Ancient Greece and into the future.
The Olympic Park
Walking along the quai de Belgique, it’s impossible to miss the Olympic Museum. Situated at the edge of the road, the huge fountain that marks the entrance to the Olympic Park is a daily magnet for tourists and those looking for a photo opportunity.
With the pictures taken, the visit starts in earnest in the museum’s gardens with their sculptures and works of art reminiscent of the Games.
At the top of the steps you can pause for a moment at the start of the race track and imagine beating Usain Bolt off the blocks (maybe?!)… Once under the high jump bar, set at the world record height, you’re at the entrance to the museum building itself.
The permanent exhibition
The history of the Games
The permanent exhibition of the Olympic Museum sets out the history of the Games. The tour starts with a real leap into the past, to the Olympic Games of Antiquity. In the first room, a 3D animation immerses us in the atmosphere of the Games at Olympia and offers a recomposition of the amazing statue of Zeus. And yes, before becoming a sporting event to arouse the passions of millions of spectators, the competition was organised in honour of the father of the gods of Greek mythology.
Rounding a wall, you find yourself in 1894 before a huge painting of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee based in Lausanne since 1915. The visit continues with two of the most potent symbols of the Olympic movement: the rings and the torches. The accompanying explanations tell us more about these two icons and about each of the torches from the Games.
The exhibition naturally covers the host city, the infrastructures (who doesn’t remember the stadium and pool in Beijing?!), the history and even the mascots. The first part of the visit ends with a video of the spectacular opening ceremonies.
The Olympic athletes and disciplines
Now we’re ready to move on to the sport itself! The lower floor of the permanent exhibition is entirely dedicated to the athletes, with hundreds of pieces of equipment that belonged to them. More than just skies, shoes, helmets or racquets, these are actual tangible pieces of history.
In the centre of the room, the visit becomes immersive. A fabulous installation plunges us deep into the heart of the action and allows us to follow the athletes at close quarters.
The Olympic village
Having come back down to earth, we move on to the last part of the visit, with the Olympic village. Because, of course, the Games also involve logistics: thousands of athletes have to be fed and housed throughout the entire competition. The tour also takes on board other themes such as sports technology and athletic training.
And there’s an opportunity to test out our abilities too – balance, concentration, reflexes, accuracy – in an interactive segment of the exhibition. Here we can compete with the athletes and attempt, for example, to beat a handball keeper’s record on an interactive wall.
The visit ends with a presentation of the medals from the various editions of the Games since 1896. And before leaving, you can have a photo taken on the podium of the Sydney games in front of a quotation by Pierre de Coubertin:
“The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Round off the trip with refreshments at the TOM Café, with its breathtaking view over the museum’s grounds and Lake Geneva; and why not pop in to the shop for a little souvenir of your visit. Maybe a mascot soft toy or a vintage-style poster of an edition of the Games… Mexico ’68 is a particular gem!