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Museum of Ethnography sparks controversy in Geneva

The Annex at Conches temporarily houses exhibitions for the Museum of Ethnography in Geneva.

The construction of a new Museum of Ethnography in Geneva has triggered strong criticism from opponents of the project.

The opponents say the SFr100 million ($60.94 million) building will be “ugly”, “too small” and “not properly financed”. They are particularly opposed to Geneva taking on 70 per cent of the bill for a project whose benefits extend far beyond cantonal boundaries.

With regard to the building’s size, the opponents argued in local news reports that the museum should be set close to Geneva’s international organisations, where there is more space available.

They are also concerned that Geneva will have to support additional costs if the budget is not respected, and say the new museum could cost up to SFr130 million.

Supporters of the project

Those in favour of the project say the new museum will offer three times more exhibition space than was previously available.

The existing museum – in a former school building since 1941 – is considered much too small. It has space to exhibit only five per cent of its collections, which include many cultural items reflecting Geneva’s relationship with the rest of the world.

The project also foresees the grouping of institutions – the ethnography museum, Geneva University’s department of anthropology and ecology, and ethnomusicology workshops.

The new ethnology museum was widely approved by Geneva’s city parliament in 1995, and is still subject to an upcoming public vote.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR