Collections

Photo Elysée houses unique collections of more than 1,200,000 prototypes covering the entire spectrum of photographic art in all its dimensions – historical, aesthetic, technical, social and cultural – from the earliest processes dating back to the 1840s through to today’s digital images.

Collections Temporary Closure

Due to the temporary closure of the museum until June 2022 as well as the work involved moving our Collections, requests for research, loans or reproductions of images for publication have been suspended. We will be delighted to serve your needs again once in our new premises at Plateforme 10 from Spring 2023.

The Collections

Taking inventories, cataloguing, documenting, studying, restoring, processing, conserving and digitising photography are among the museum’s primary missions. Its collections have been built up since the museum was created in 1985, and reflect the institution’s own history with numerous acquisitions made related to the exhibitions it has programmed.

From the very beginning, the aim of the collections has been to cover the medium’s plurality and multiplicity of forms and expressions, whether travel photography or family portraits, professional or amateur, artistic or documentary, photojournalism or studio work, photographic illustrations or scientific images and so on, and whether the prints were made by well-known or little known photographers, those already in the annals of art history or new talent, not to mention artists “not yet identified” and vernacular practices. From year to year, the collections continue to be enriched through purchases, donations, bequests and commissions.

The photographers

Photo Elysée manages and conserves major collections by international photographers such as Gabriel Lippmann, Lucia Moholy, Mario Giacomelli, Pierre de Fenoÿl, Gilles Caron, Geraldo de Barros, Marc Riboud, John Philipps, Pieter Hugo, Feng Li, Yang Fudong, Machiel Botman, Christine Spengler, Kenji Nakahashi, Pascal Convert, Martine Franck and Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as Swiss photographers including Paul Vionnet, Adrien Constant-Delessert, Gabriel Eynard, André Schmid, l’atelier Boissonnas, Adolphe Braun, Giorgio Sommer, Emil Nicola-Karlen, Archibald Reiss, Jeanne Chevalier, Luc Chessex, Jean Otth, Theo Frey, Peter Binz, Christian Vogt, Michael von Graffenried, Ruth Erdt, Monique Jacot, Roger Humbert, Annelies Štrba and Christian Scholz. The museum also houses and conserves large collections such as part of the Vaud’s iconographic collection and the Polaroid collection. It also conserves albums and photographs by unknown artists.

Photographic Archives

Thanks to its expertise, the museum is also internationally recognized for its skills in managing complete photographic collections, which is why it has been entrusted with collections from the studios of Jongh, Pierre Gilliard, Gertrude Fehr, Ella Maillart, Rodolphe Schlemmer, Nicolas Bouvier, Charles Chaplin, Maurice Blanc, Jules Jacot-Guillarmod, Jean Herbert, Edouard Payot, Marcel Imsand, Jean Mohr, Hans Steiner, Jean-Pierre Grisel, Maurice Vouga, Suzi Pilet, Jan Groover, Lehnert & Landrock, Olivier Föllmi, René Burri, Pierre Keller and Sabine Weiss.

The notion of archives is particularly decisive, making it possible to trace the modus operandi of a given photographer through their negatives, contact sheets, proofs, exhibition prints, notebooks, correspondence, account books, paper documentation, publications and digital files. Conserving complete collections enables us to understand how each photographer considered their craft and developed their creative process or modus operandi, their professional career and their relationship with the medium, as well as their projects over the years.

Contemporary Creation

Photo Elysée is committed to encouraging young, contemporary creation too, supporting various artists either over the long term or for specific projects. Among our collections is also work by Laia Abril, Matthias Bruggmann, Alina Frieske, Matthieu Gafsou, Agnes Geoffray, Yann Gross, Christian Lutz, Virginie Otth, Simon Rimaz, Nicolas Savary, Corinne Vionnet and Vasantha Yogananthan.

Storerooms at PLATEFORME 10

In its new premises at the Plateforme 10 site, the museum will benefit from storerooms with ideal conditions for conserving photographs: a depot at 6°C for negatives and slides, two depots at 11°C for color prints, two rooms at 17°C for black and white prints, glass plates and primitive photographs as well as a storeroom for photographers’ paper archives.

To process and care for its collections, the museum will also have a conservation/restoration workshop, a reproduction studio, a room to handle photographs and a consultation room; this will enable it to manage its collections in areas that are perfectly adapted to its needs and, on specific occasions, suitable for opening to the public under supervision.

Réseau Photo Vaud

Photo Elysée belongs to the Réseau Photo Vaud composed by several institutions which preserves photographs in the Canton of Vaud. This network aims to inform potential donors about their acquisition guidelines. To contact us, please write to info@elysee.ch.

Viewing requests

Due to the temporary closure of the museum until June 2022 as well as the work involved moving our Collections, requests for research, loans or reproductions of images for publication have been suspended. We will be delighted to serve your needs again once in our new premises at Plateforme 10 from Spring 2023.