Photo Elysée is one of the most important museums entirely dedicated to the photographic medium. Each year, we produce demanding exhibitions, distribute reference editorial content, conceive innovative events and offer events open to all.
Since its creation in 1985 as a “museum for photography”, Photo Elysée has been questioning the permanent reinvention of the medium through the great figures who have marked its history by imagining new ways of seeing or making people see, while revealing in a privileged way the emerging photography which, through unseen views, bears witness to the world of today and prefigures that of tomorrow. In other words: to cover all the subjects of photography, to discover them sometimes, and above all to make them rediscovered.
The museum’s collection of more than 1,200,000 phototypes covers the entire field of photography, from the first processes dating from the 1840s to the digital image. It includes many complete photographic collections or archives, including those of Sabine Weiss, Jan Groover, René Burri, Ella Maillart, Nicolas Bouvier, Charlie Chaplin, Gertrude Fehr, Hans Steiner and Olivier Föllmi.
On June 18, 2022, Photo Elysée will open its doors to the public in the heart of Plateforme 10, Lausanne’s arts district, in a building designed by the Portuguese architects Aires Mateus and shared with the mudac. On a 1400 square meter flexible and modular museum activity platform, our exhibition spaces, whose scenography is designed by Studio Adrien Gardère, interconnect temporary exhibitions on a divisible surface of 850 square meters, a space dedicated to the museum’s collections of 150 square meters – accessible free of charge -, a room dedicated to digital creation – the LabElysée – of 110 square meters, and two innovative educational spaces (Le Studio and l’Atelier) of 228 square meters.
To assert itself as a “generalist” museum open to all views on photography
- To present the plurality and diversity of photographic uses, practices and expressions of yesterday and today, making them accessible to all
- To share with the public our familiarity, our curiosity and our desire for photography
- To reveal what is emerging today in the field of photography, like a permanent school of the glance opened on the creation, the society and the contemporary reality
To safeguard, conserve, study, develop and make accessible an exceptional photographic heritage
- To promote and make accessible to all audiences the extent and richness of Photo Elysée’s photographic heritage
- To develop innovative study and analysis programs on and from this heritage, like a permanent laboratory for the interrogation of the medium
- To document and make this heritage available to historians and practitioners in order to conduct research projects on photographers, photography and its uses
To offer to all audiences the time to experience photography
- To install spaces where images can be expressed and illuminated
- Accompany the visitor and open his or her eyes with our complicity through moments of life, listening and exchange around and about photography
- To place the spectator as an actor of a sensitive and emancipating experience in front of the photographic creation
To support and encourage photographic creation and share it with all audiences
- To engage with photographers, to bring to life and share their experiments, their research and their creations
- To conduct regular campaigns of exploration and photographic prospecting
- To make all audiences discover the new revolutions of the image and what could become the photography of tomorrow
To initiate places of understanding, analysis and debate on the world
- To reveal and value the forms of commitment of photographers for facts, causes or subjects, yesterday and today
- To assert itself as an open and permanent forum on the societal issues of the 21st century
- To make all audiences aware of the mutations of the world through photography, and of the mutations of photography through its view of the world
Scientific and Cultural Project 2020-2025
The Scientific and Cultural Project (SCP), the result of the work of all the museum’s departments, has embodied the vision of our institution since 2015 . This long-term project aims to synthesize in a single unifying document a historical assessment, the current vision and the new actions to be implemented. It was written in view of our move to Platforme 10.
Until its move to Plateforme 10 in June 2022, the museum was housed in an elegant mansion in the area known as the Little Ouchy. It was built between 1780 and 1783 by Henri de Mollins (1729-1811), a Swiss officer serving the Dutch Royal family and a Major of the regiment stationed in Lausanne. Named l’Elysée in 1834, the mansion is located in a splendid park with an exceptional view overlooking the lake. In 1971, the building was bought by the canton of Vaud to be completely restored and in part equipped as a museum. Between 1980 and 1985, it housed the canton of Vaud’s Collection of Prints, later transferred to Vevey following the foundation of the Musée de l’Elysée, as a museum for photography, by Charles-Henri Favrod in October 1985.
A new arts district
The reunion of the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts (MCBA), Photo Elysée and mudac, completed by the Toms Pauli and Félix Vallotton foundations, forms a new 25,000 m² arts district in the heart of the city of Lausanne.
Plateforme 10’s mission is to awaken the curiosity of all audiences by offering them a place to live, a space for discovery, exchange, learning, experimentation, wonder, but also for leisure and contemplation.
The project by the Portuguese architects Aires Mateus brings together the complementary nature of the two museums, Photo Elysée and mudac, on either side of the luminous gap that marks the common entrance. A true forum open on all four sides, this entrance hall brings together all the shared functions: ticket office, bookshop, store and cafeteria.
A staircase leads to the Photo Elysée exhibition spaces on the ground floor and to the mudac on the second floor. The exhibition spaces are flexible because they are modular, and allow the presentation of the collections and the scenography of temporary exhibitions to be deployed in a flexible manner. The storage and technical services in the basement guarantee optimal conservation of the collections, while the administrative spaces surround the central building to the north and west, which is itself entirely devoted to the public.
Fondation de l'Elysée
Created in 1988 to build up a collection of photographs, the Fondation de l’Elysée has been able to finance many ambitious projects in Switzerland and abroad.
Jean-Claude Falciola | President
Photo Elysée, in partnership with the Institution de Lavigny, is currently offering training tailored to the needs of young people from special education programs who have an interest in culture and display particular skills that call for an unconventional study path. Passerelle Culturelle allows young people to join public or private cultural institutions, to discover their interests and develop a concrete career plan.