The Geneva Ethnography Museum (Musée d'ethnographie de Genève) holds the largest ethnographic collection in Switzerland–its 80,000 objects and 300,000 documents are beautifully arranged in exhibits highlighting all parts of the world. With rotating exhibitions, an extensive anthropology library and an upstairs gallery featuring music from around the globe, there is enough material to interest an expert and entertain those taking a look around. Though most of the descriptions are in French, the new museum is worth a visit, having reopened in 2014 in an iconic, Swiss-designed pavilion reminiscent of an Asian-style pagoda.
Though the building looks small, its peaked roof gives way to huge exhibition spaces below. The permanent exhibition covers two rooms and is free to enter, while the temporary exhibition changes yearly and is paid for. A tour of both is a good way to spend an hour in the city, with less people around in the morning.
Visitors with a Geneva Pass can enter both exhibitions for free, with the added benefit of unlimited public transportation and admission to over 40 other attractions, including Geneva's Natural History Museum and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Insider’s Tip: Whatever you do at the Geneva Ethnography Museum, plan for a stop at the Marie Madeleine Lancoux library. The all-white room is filled with books and daylight, its diamond-shaped windows illuminating the high-arched ceilings and all 45,000 books.
Geneva Ethnography Museum is located on boulevard Carl-Vogt. It’s just an eight-minute walk from Plainpalais tram station (lines 12 and 15) and also from a parking lot on Avenue Henri-Dunnant (rates are 1 CHF per every half hour). The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm, but it’s closed on Monday. Admission to the permanent collection is free; admission to the temporary exhibits costs 9 CHF.