|Geneva : Around the Old Town|
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Back along the Rue du Puits-St-Pierre, you’ll come to a set of stairs leading down towards the Rues-Basses. Off to the left is Rue Calvin, with, at no. 10, the Musée Barbier-Müller (daily 11am–5pm; Fr.5; SMP), housing a striking and beautifully displayed collection of non-European sculpture and artwork. Notes are copious, guiding you from an incredible room filled with antique gold from Africa to huge carved masks from Oceania, and more.
Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
For the marvellous fine-art collection, head up the grand staircase. What confronts you at the top is perhaps the highlight of the museum, a graceful and heart-stoppingly romantic sculpture in marble of Venus and Adonis, standing alone and lit by a skylight. Antonio Canova, a pre-eminent but now little-known Neoclassical sculptor, has given Venus the fingers of a pianist. Also at the head of the stairs are two powerful Rodins, TheThinker and TheTragic Muse. The collection begins in Hall 401 to the right of Venus and Adonis and, although it more or less keeps a chronological thread, don’t be surprised if you come across photography, concrete installations or even video art scattered in amongst the painting. In room 402 you’ll find Konrad Witz’s famous altarpiece, made for the cathedral in 1444, which shows Christ and the fisherman transposed onto Lake Geneva. As you work your way around the perimeter rooms, Rembrandt and other Dutch and Flemish artists are in room 406, nineteenth-century Swiss in 408–9; the inner ring of smaller rooms features work by the eighteenth-century Genevois painter Liotard in 419–20. Perimeter rooms 412–14 are devoted to Vallotton, Pissarro, Cézanne, Renoir and Modigliani, with some striking Hodlers on the inner ring, including a mystical Lac de Thoune (1909) in room 425.
Back downstairs, the applied arts collection is on the mezzanine gallery and the ground floor, a wealth of silverware, pewter, armour and costume. The Cartigny room, with 1805 wood panelling by the Genevois craftsman Jean Jaquet, shows exquisitely elegent Louis XV and XVI furniture. The ground floor also often features temporary exhibits (admission charged).
The lower floor is given over to the massive archeological collection. Turn right for the breathtaking Egyptian rooms, including sections from the Book of the Dead, a complete ninth-century BC mummy, and a beautiful granite statue of the goddess Sekhmet, with the body of a woman and the head of a lioness, from the fourteenth century BC. There’s also an excellent display on hieroglyphics. The halls devoted to Ancient Greece and Rome are no less impressive, filled with statuary, glassware and good historical notes.
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