'Get Active' Exhibition at the Olympic Museum 'Get Active' Exhibition at the Olympic Museum © International Olympic Committee

Swiss museums: in & around Geneva Featured

You might think that you need a good grasp of French to enjoy a museum around Lake Geneva, but you don’t need any at all for these two international organisations. 

The days are getting darker and colder, so what better way to escape the misty gloom than to discover some of Switzerland’s greatest museums. We’ve picked six of the best around the country, and quite deliberately haven’t included any art galleries. Out with endless rooms of paintings, in with hours of facts and fun; each of these museums offers a winning mix of information and entertainment and are excellent multilingual museums.

Olympic Museum, Lausanne

-Christof-Schurpf-Swiss Image stc3095 cTwo soccer players by Niki de Saint Phalle in the park of the Olympic Museum in Ouchy, Switzerland © Christof Schürpf/Switzerland Tourism

Let me be clear: I’m not a big sports fan. Football (of any sort) leaves me cold, as does anything that involves running after a ball or watching others do exactly that. But even I was engrossed by the treasure trove of Olympic memorabilia on display here at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne: just seeing the running shoes that Jesse Owens wore when winning to embarrass Hitler in 1936 gave me goosebumps. You’ve seen all those golden moments on television over the years, now you can discover more about the people and places behind them. Perfect for the build-up to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. Closed Monday. Tue-Sun 10-6 (Apr-mid Oct daily) www.olympic.org/museum

Related: Swiss Museums: in & around Zürich

The International Red Cross & Red Crescent Museum, Geneva

Blast-Theory-UK -Hurricane-MICR-photo-Alain-GermondBlast Theory:Hurricane © MICR, Photographer: Alain Germond

It doesn’t have the snappiest name in the world and it deals with rather difficult topics, but despite all that this is one of the best museums in Switzerland. Precisely because of its subject matter: the Red Cross. That was founded in Geneva in 1863 by a local man, Henri Dunant, and has gone on to be the world’s leading light in humanitarian causes. But this museum isn’t only about the history of the Red Cross (though that is there of course, including the original Geneva Convention), it’s about the human nature of war and disaster. Only the very hard-hearted would not be moved by the sight of millions of POW cards from the First World War, or the photos of children from the Rwandan civil war. Closed Monday. Tue-Sun 10-6 (Apr-Oct) 10-5 (Nov-Mar) www.redcrossmuseum.ch

C 1 International Prisoners of War Agency  1914-1923International Prisoners of War Agency (1914-1923) Exhibition © MICR, Photographer: Alain Germond

1 Red Cross Museum
2 The Olympic Museum