This post, and the ones that will follow, have been a long time coming. I got a little side tracked mid-June with travel!
Up until mid-May, F and I had only visited two museums in Geneva: the International Museum of the Reformation (I actually would not recommend this to anyone) and the Voltaire Museum (a very modest but interesting collection), so when we heard of the Super Museum Night (la nuit des super-musées), we thought why not? F’s cousin came with us, too.
On May 17 and 18th, for the Super Museum Night, many of the museums in Geneva were set to open their doors until about midnight to showcase new or special exhibits and invite locals to discover their collections in an unconventional way. Sunday was marketed as ‘family night’ so we opted for Saturday to avoid the stampede of little ones and went over to the Musée Ariana.
I had been wanting to visit the Ariana for quite some time. I had passed by it a few times on my way to the Palais des Nations, the UN’s official headquarters, and seen advertisements for their Terres d’Islam exhibit (or Lands of Islam) out on the streets, too. The Ariana originally housed the private collection of a Swiss art collector, who named the building after his mother and later handed it down to the city of Geneva. Today the Ariana is known as the Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass.
When we arrived we signed up for the special guided “flashlight tour” and walked through the rooms housing the permanent collection to pass the time. You’ll find all sorts of Swiss and French ceramics and pottery, from vases, polished plates, and antique tea cups to several other precious adornments. Even more impressive, for me, were the details on the inside of the building itself (see my own photos at the end of this post!).
After going through the permanent collection, we made our way back to the entrance, just in time for our late-night (11:30 p.m.) tour. The docent handed us these adorable little flashlights and led us downstairs to view the Terres d’Islam exhibit (finally!). Save for the bits of the room and the vitrine enclosing the various plates on display, we were completely enveloped in darkness. In this camp-like atmosphere, the docent went into detail about the pieces on display and the techniques that were used to create them.
Immediately following the tour, we stuck around for a short, hybrid performance that incorporated the traditional story telling, dance, and music of a group of performers of Moroccan origins. Then, we were offered small Moroccan treats (mostly almond-based, like the ones my host mom used to make) and Moroccan mint tea – my absolute favorite – on our way out . Needless to say, I left the Ariana more than pleased with my experience!
If you’d like to go to the Super Museum Night next year, I suggest looking for information on the participating museums and their exhibitions for the weekend online (and in advance) and choosing the one that most interests you!