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Museum expands to display growing collection

The harbour at Honfleur by Eugène Boudin. Hermitage Foundation

The Hermitage Foundation in Lausanne is staging the biggest exhibition of its considerable art collection since the museum opened in 1984.

This content was published on February 23, 2003 - 12:14

The museum recently re-opened after two months of building work to extend exhibition space, allowing unseen art treasures to go on show.

In less than 20 years, some 800 works of art have been accumulated, most of them donations from local benefactors. But until now, restricted space meant that many were rarely on public view.

These include a collection of Chinese porcelain dating from the 12th to the 19th centuries.

"The extra space was really necessary," museum director Juliane Cosandier told swissinfo.

"When I took over seven years ago, space was so limited for activities around the exhibitions that few people could attend them. Now we have the facilities to greatly expand those activities."

Local donations

Cosandier added that the extra exhibition space was needed because when the museum was inaugurated no one involved had anticipated the great generosity of local collectors.

Over the past 19 years, they have enriched the foundation with a steady supply of works through donations, bequests and deposits.

Initially, the foundation was given works by the Bugnion family collection, which notably includes a group of 18th century portraits as well as an important ensemble by the 19th century Swiss landscape artist, François Bocion.

Among the numerous donations since made to the foundation are works by Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters such as Sisley and paintings by 20th century Vaudois artists including Chavannes, Vallotton, and Bosshard.

More recently, the collection was enhanced by an exceptional bequest by Lucie Schmidheiny of works by the Tiepolos, Fantin-Latour, Vuillard, Degas and Braque.

Chinese porcelain

Several collectors and private foundations have also entrusted the Hermitage with their collections.

These include the Chinese porcelain collected by the Vergottis Foundation. From now on, this ensemble will be displayed in the underground gallery linking the museum with the Hermitage farmhouse.

John Ayers, former curator of the far eastern art department at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, arranged the porcelain section.

"It's a very representative collection of the different types of porcelain produced, particularly during the Qing dynasty in the 18th century," he told swissinfo.

swissinfo, Richard Dawson

In brief

In 1841, the banker Charles-Juste Bugnion bought the land called The Hermitage on a hill overlooking Lausanne and built a family mansion with a vast park on the plot.

Bugnion's descendants gave the building and part of the park to the city of Lausanne in 1976.

Since it opened as an art museum in 1984, some 800 works have been accumulated and thanks to recent extension work, more of them can now be exhibited.

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