Temporary Exhibition


3 May 2024 - 5 January 2025

Geneva in the Colonial World

In its new exhibition entitled "Memories. Geneva in the colonial world", MEG explores the history of its collections linked to the colonial era. Looking to the future, this exhibition is an invitation to reflect together on MEG's commitment to communities of origin and to the fight against discrimination.

The Exhibition Website


Carnet d'observations et de réflexions

Une aide à la visite de l'exposition Mémoires. Genève dans le monde colonial.
Destiné au jeune public à partir de 10 ans, ce carnet permet de découvrir les thèmes clés de l’exposition de manière originale.
Il propose des exercices d’observations, des pistes de réflexion ainsi que des audioguides.
Le Carnet d'observations et de réflexions et son lecteur audio sont disponibles gratuitement à l’Accueil du MEG.

Carnet d'observations et de réflexions    [PDF 1.5 Mo]



Covered basket
DR Congo? Congo Republic? Angola? Caribbean?  
Kongo peoples. 18th century or earlier. Basketwork in  two-coloured plant fibre on a bark lining, cashew nuts  conserved inside 
Gift from Louis Pictet (de Pregny) to the Academic Museum in 1824; provenance and context of creation not documented
MEG Inv. ETHAM K000252

How did Geneva survive the colonial era? how is the Museum of Ethnography a major cultural player in the colonial context? What do its collections tell us? What do we understand about the history of an object, sometimes centuries after it entered Geneva's museum collections?
These questions are at the heart of MEG's new temporary exhibition "Memories. Geneva in the colonial world". The exhibition explores the ancient collections from around the world that MEG now holds in safekeeping, through stories told by many different voices.


Decorative calabash
Surinam. Late 19th century. Half-calabash from the Crescienta cujete 
Gift in 1905 from Pauline and Marie Micheli, respectively the widows of  
Jean-Louis and his son Marc Micheli, both close to the Genevan Protestant elite and the Moravian missions; context of creation not documented 
MEG Inv. ETHAM 003534

"Memories. Geneva in the colonial world" is an exhibition that invites a wide range of partners to explore our shared history, redefine the status of ethnographic collections and invent their future. The exhibition questions MEG's role at the heart of the world's colonial past, as well as its cultural and social responsibility in a society where discrimination and racism are echoed. The exhibition is designed to take stock of (de)colonial issues at the museum.


Contact sheet. Portrait of Sherpa Nijma (Nigma?) Djordji, photo no. 3014
Photographs taken by Marguerite Lobsiger-Dellenbach during the "Mission to Nepal" in 1952. MEG Archives


Various drawings by the artist and collector Émile Chambon (1905-1993) representing African objects from his personal collection, found on the art market or in museums.
Inks on the reverse of vernissage cards. Between 1934 and 1956
MEG Archives 2013.V4/2


Photograph of the arrival of the crates and the installation of the totem poles in the museum garden in 1956
Reproduction. MEG negative no 9940

Exhibition route

When entering the exhibition "Memories. Geneva in the Colonial World" exhibition, visitors are greeted by a sound work and then choose to discover one of the three spaces: The Salon, The Collection or the six Capsules.
At the heart of the exhibition, the Salon is a warm, open space where visitors can meet others and take part in the exhibition's scientific and cultural events.

The Collection invites visitors to follow a thematic trail that traces certain aspects of the history of colonisation through the prism of Geneva. Investigations carried out on the objects are revealed, with the help of clues such as archives, labels, old inventory entries and photographs. The tour is punctuated by testimonies of past and present resistance to colonialism and the racism that goes with it.

As for the Capsules, they have been designed in six independent universes. Conceived as a dialogue between the heirs to the collections, the public and MEG, each capsule tells the story of objects from the past, present and future, from the four corners of the globe. These vignettes reflect MEG's commitment to co-constructing the future of ethnographic collections with those involved in recognising the rights of indigenous peoples and in the fight against racism.


Deskaheh Levi General and the support committee set up by René Claparède to support the Hodinohsho:ni cause in front of the Palais de l'Athénée, 1923. 
Photographer unknown. Reproduction. Bibliothèque de Genève, icon P 1959-221

Practical informations

2nd basement

3 May 2024 - 5 January 2025
Tuesday to Friday
from 11:00 to 18:00

General public

Accessible to persons with reduced mobility

General Admissions is free of charge.