La Nuit des Musées 2011… another night of museum hopping, part 1…

After that slight diversion to share about what we did during the recent weekend, let me continue with what we did some weeks before that!

Following our cycling trip to Epesses through the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage listed terraced vineyards of Lavaux, we took a break from going on excursions and instead spent the Saturday following that trip doing some shopping and then spending time at home both on Saturday and on Sunday. But we resumed our series of active weekends the following week by … going to the annual programme called Museum Nights, or La Nuit des Musées, which is a bit of misnomer really given that a good third of the event takes place during daylight!

Traditionally, La Nuit des Musées is held on the last Saturday of September (which was on the 24th this year).This year was the second time we took part in the 11-year old programme set up by Lausanne and Pully. And as had been shared earlier, this year’s theme … unlike the Football theme of last year’s edition was the Garden … or more specifically “Culture as a Garden”.

We did not start exactly at 2.00pm on the dot … but decided to do so after we had done our grocery shopping for the week and had had our lunch. Well … must make sure we had the energy to do the museum rounds lah … since we had until 2.00 am to visit as many number of museums as we could. So, sustenance was very important!! 🙂

So … did we manage to break our prior-year record of the number of museums visited? Weeeeeelllllll … of course we did! Since this year’s event was the 11th edition of La Nuit des Musées … we managed to visit … 11 museums on that day and night! hehehe … As much as we would have liked to cover more, age is catching up and I was starting to feel quite tired, hopping from one museum to another … and in fact by the time it was 2.00am I was trying to get the hubby (who was still keen to stay a little longer at the last place … which was not a museum but a wide underground room at a recycling plant which had been converted into a party area for that night) to go home! We had decided to take the last bus to the place because it is in Sallaz and therefore within walking distance to our home and thus a convenient last stop for us.

By the time we reached home and got ready to get to bed … it was close to 3.00am! Ahhhh … I think all these late night hoppings are no longer for me lah! For next year, I told the hubby that I would prefer that we start early, preferably on the dot, and try to get home before midnight! So that we would not have to make our way home, on foot in the middle of the night, … and most importantly I will get my beauty sleep early!!!

Anyway … here are the museums or places that we visited that day as part of La Nuit des Musées 2011. I will only share pictures of the first few museums that we visited, here … since there are too many photos to share in one entry!

First stop for the day …  the Botanic Garden (Musée et Jardin botaniques cantonaux ) … my favourite venue!!! 🙂

It was kind of appropriate, was it not … for us to start our Museum Night event with Culture as a Garden as its theme … at the Botanic Garden!? 🙂

We were there just in time to attend a briefing by one of the volunteers … on wild plants and berries … my favourite topic. Unfortunately, as the briefing was in French … quite a bit of the information was lost to me even though I did grasp some of the information that she shared. Note the green apron, commonly associated with gardeners here … and which was also the “uniform” for this year’s event.

The nice thing about the event held at the Botanic Garden was that there was a tasting booth for desserts and drinks made from the fruits and berries that one can find in the wild! We loikeee!!!! 🙂 And some of these items were on sale at the opposite booth. We also made time to visit the small museum at the Botanic Garden before we made our way to the next museum … the one which I had wanted to visit last year but did not have the time to do so!

The Roman Museum at Vidy (Musée romain de Lausanne-Vidy)!

This museum bears testimony to the fact that the name of Lausanne comes from the Latin word Lousonna (which some have associated to the Celtic word ‘lausa’, a flat stone). However, the Roman settlement (which lasted approximately from 20 BC to 250 AD) was situated on the shore of the lake as opposed to being located on one of Lausanne’s three hills (unlike earlier and even later settlements).

This museum, which was rebuilt in 1993 on the site of an earlier museum, incorporates elements of an important Roman villa (this mansion had an atrium, walls with frescoes and even heated floors).

Some of the artefacts from the Roman settlement of Lousonna found in the vicinity of Vidy. The number of amphoras (long vases used for transporting wine, cereals, oil, etc) show that Lousonna must have been a trading settlement of some importance for the Romans.

The museum offered several activities on that day in relation with the Roman world so as to involve the younger visitors. It was nice to see the volunteers all dressed up like the Romans. 🙂

This panorama shows what is left of the Roman settlement closer to the lake shore (and not far from the museum) some 18 centuries later. The area these ruins cover have led historians to estimate that Lousonna had a population of some 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants in those days.

From here, we made our way to our third stop for the day … which was NOT in our plan, actually … but we decided to stop by as it was on our way to the bus stop to go to the next museum that was IN our plan!

The quite futuristic-looking Espace des Inventions (which is equivalent to a science centre, back home in Singapore … except that it is on a smaller scale), located near the beautiful park of Vallée de la Jeunesse. On top of the building is the balloon design for this year’s edition of La Nuit des Musées (NDM).

The special exhibition at that time happened to be on Brains or “Les Doigts dans le Cerveau” (loosely translated as ‘the engine under the hood‘) … so there were these cute puppet figures near the entrance with their heads sliced open. Hmmm … sounds a little gross when I say it like that, no? … but the figurines were actually quite cute, especially the one wearing the NDM green apron. 🙂

There was quite a crowd inside the centre … and some of the interactive exhibits were more popular than others … in particular the one in the far left picture. Although we had initially thought of just having a quick look … we ended up testing our brain power at a few of the exhibits! hehehe …

From here, we proceeded to our planned museum stop …

The Olympic Museum at Ouchy (harbour of Lausanne).

The left picture shows the small library inside the museum (which unfortunately was closed when we were there) on the lower floor, the entrance and reception area on the middle floor and the hubby making his way up to the upper floor to see the exhibits on that floor. But first … a stop at the cafeteria on the upper floor (right picture) … which has a beautiful view of lake Geneva … for some refreshments. But seeing the number of diners there and since we were rushing for time … we had to skip the intended refreshments there! 😦

The special exhibition during that period was entitled Hope … and as part of the Hope exhibition there was a tree in one of the rooms where one could hang a small card with words of hope and aspiration written on it. A nice touch … but unfortunately, there were no pens or any blank cards on the writing table beside the tree when we there … so I could not add my own words of hope and aspiration to that tree of hope! But … I did write my name on a white board that was provided in a separate area for one to scribble their names. Well the board was full of names … still … I managed to squeeze my name in lah! Who knows … maybe this board will become a permanent exhibition in the newly renovated Olympic Museum … and my name will get to be immortalised in connection with it! hehehe … 😉

One of the permanent exhibitions on the upper floor.

Hubby checking out the items used in the Winter Olympic Games. I was introduced to the game known as curling (which uses these two round stones with a little handle at the top displayed on the left) during last year’s Winter Olympic Games. Although initially I thought it was such a slow and boring game … I soon realised that it requires a lot of skill and mental calculation to win the game!! It would have been interesting to try lifting one of them to see how much it weighs … but we are not allowed to touch the exhibits!!

The picture on the right shows some of the balls used for short put game as well as several discuses which had been autographed by the winning athletes. On the right are rows of sport shoes (some formerly worn by the athletes during specific games), also bearing the athletes’ autographs.

The activities at the Olympic Museum that evening … making garlands from olive leaves … mainly for children. Once finished, they could have their photo taken wearing a Roman costume … together with the olive garlands that they had made. But it appeared that not just the kids … even adults seemed quite interested in having their photo taken wearing a Greek costume (a hint to the Ancient Greek Olympic Games) for posterity!! 🙂 Actually, if there had been more time, I would have lurved to make a garland for myself, too … no, no, not to take photo … but just to wear on that day as I had seen several others doing so.

By the time we left the Olympic Museum, it was already quite dark … which meant … that we did not manage to be at the History Museum on time to catch the setting sun from there! Awwww … what a pity.  Oh well … better luck (to me) next year, then! 🙂

Arriving at the entrance to the History Museum (Musée Historique de Lausanne).

Since I was hungry and had to skip our intended refreshment at the Olympic Museum, the hubby bought pan-sized cheese pizza and a drink for our dinner … and we had them as we made our way up the stairs from Riponne to the History Museum, which is situated on one of Lausanne’s three hills. Never had a plain cheese pizza tasted so delicious to me … which showed how starving I was! 🙂 But to be fair … this particular pastry booth also sells delicious cheese and tomato calzones. It was one of those rare times when I had to eat quickly … so that we could immediately go inside to cover our fifth museums for the day/night!

One of the rooms in the upper floor of the museum exhibiting a kitchen normally found in the olden days. Just next to this kitchen is a board explaining the uses of the various kitchen utensils. What caught our interest was this picture of a cauldron, which can be used at the same time to cook various food stuff! Very efficient! 🙂

In one of the rooms on the ground floor which has a scale model of Lausanne in the old days, those visitors interested could sit and listen to the audio guide that is played at regular intervals to explain the history of Lausanne. Since my grasp of the French language is very limited … I just used the opportunity to sit down and rest … while the hubby listened attentively to the explanations! 😉

In another much smaller room on the same floor there was a scale model of the Grand Pont in the Flon area (an area that I frequented very often, especially when I was attending French classes) … which I had only just noticed on this visit (even though I had been to this museum three times before this)! It was interesting to see how the place looked like years ago … versus its present-day appearance. And if you notice, there is a kind of door on the floor on the left picture.

Strangely … the hubby did not notice this door while we there … which upon reading the information panel we learned that it was a trapdoor leading to the cellar at the basement of the building. One should note that this museum is housed in part in the fortified building that protected the area in the Middle Ages. 

Another exhibit which I had failed to notice in my earlier visits was this old statue of Justice placed in one of the rooms in the lower floor. This statue built by Laurent Perraud had been adorning the old fountain located in the centre of the old town in Lausanne since 1585 before it was replaced with a copy in 1930.

Although we failed to get our sunset shot from the museum … we were glad however to have been able to capture this shot of the brightly illuminated Cathedral of Lausanne, which provided a beautiful contrast in the dimness of the private garden located just outside the room above.

And the same small garden as seen from the ramp outside, near the entrance.

The last two rooms that we visited in the lower floor before leaving the History Museum: one showcasing some Roman artefacts (left pic) and the other used for exhibiting some of the works of the writer C. F. Ramuz and comic artist M. Berthod as part of the BD-FIL (Lausanne International Comics Festival) event, which was held from 9-11 September … and which we did not manage to see as we were busy trying to hike the mountains in Klosters and Grammont!

Okay … before you get too overwhelmed, I will stop here and share the rest of the museums that we covered that night in the next post.

Other entries on La Nuit de Musées: 

Entries on museums in Lausanne:

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