The heart of the Olympics

The grounds of the Olympic Museum are decorated with meaningful statues.

Many sports lovers dream of experiencing the Olympic Games at least once in a lifetime. Nonetheless, not everyone is lucky enough due to certain limitations. Those waiting to fulfil this dream have an alternative to exploring the essence and evolution of the Games in every aspect, through exhibitions at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Nestled in a green area on Quai d’Ouchy by the Lake of Geneva in downtown, the museum, officially called Le Musee Olympique, has exhibition space covering 3,000m² with 1,500 objects, 150 audiovisual devices, 50 interactive screens and seven hours of sound and video. Each year, it attracts almost 300,000 visitors. All the exhibitions are presented in English and French. Via scenography, visitors can indulge in the history, cultures, designs and challenges of the Olympic Games, as well as the dreams and values of Olympism.

Stepping into the museum’s modern main building, you must buy tickets worth 18 Swiss Francs (600 baht) each for adults and 10 Swiss Francs for children. The permanent exhibition begins with a zone dedicated to the origins of the Games.

The Olympic Games in Antiquity. Pichaya Svasti

In the Olympic World zone, you will learn about the Olympic Games in antiquity at Olympia in Peloponnese, Greece, through a film and interactive model of Olympia which accommodated 40,000 people there at the time of the Games. The first written records date to 776 BC. Every four years, all the Greeks or Hellenes, including athletes, politicians, artists, poets, orators and merchants, would take part in the Olympiad — sacred sports competitions held in honour of the god Zeus. The aim of these games was to unite the Greeks.

Olympia was divided into two zones: the sacred area, called the Altis, with temples, altars and statues; and the secular area, for organising the Games with the gymnasium, hippodrome, palaestra and civil buildings for training, as well as the stadium, with a 192m-long rectangular track. Only individual sports were on the programme — the foot races, combat sports, pentathlon and horse races. Runners at the time ran naked and barefoot while riders sat astride horses with no saddles.

Nowadays, the Olympic Games are held every two years, with the Summer and Winter Games alternating. The first Olympic Winter Games were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. A total of 28 types of sports are on the programme of the Summer Games, seven for the Winter Games. For instance, the Rio 2016 Games featured a total of 43 disciplines and 306 events, mainly athletics and swimming. Gender equality has been realised since the 2012 London Games, with women competing in all the same disciplines as men, including boxing.

The section devoted to modern Olympic Games founder Pierre de Coubertin. Pichaya Svasti

The next section of the exhibition is devoted to Pierre de Coubertin, a sportsman and educator who revived the Olympic Games by establishing the Olympic Movement and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), based in Lausanne, in 1894, and holding the first Olympic Games of the modern era in Athens in 1896. You will feel like visiting Coubertin’s office in Paris, since the exhibition room is full of personal belongings and images of Coubertin and his family. Through interactive diary and audiovisual media, you can learn about Coubertin’s vision and ideas and the development of the modern Olympic Games. The Olympic Movement is aimed at educating young people to practise sports for creating a more peaceful world.

Highlights of the zone include one of the first Olympic flags, as well as details about how the Olympic flag, motto, anthem and charter have developed. The Olympic flag consists of the famous blue, yellow, black, green and red rings on a white background. None of the colours is related to a continent, as many people mistakenly believe. In fact, Coubertin selected these six colours because they could be found on the flags of every country in the world. The rings, hand drawn and painted by Coubertin himself, appeared for the first time in 1913. The Olympic flag first flew in the Olympic Stadium during the 1920 Games in Antwerp, Belgium.

The next section is about the Olympic torch relay, which announces the beginning of the Olympic Games. A creation of the modern Games, the relay first appeared in 1936 in Berlin. The flame, passed from torch to torch and hand to hand, symbolises peace and brotherhood among the peoples of the world.

You will be able to watch a movie depicting the torch-lighting ceremony at Olympia using a parabolic mirror to concentrate the Sun’s rays. You will also see the complete collection of Summer and Winter Games torches since the first relay in 1936. Some of the torches are the work of renowned designers such as Philippe Starck (for the Winter Games in Albertville, France, in 1992) and Pininfarina (for the Summer Games in Turin in 2006). A cut torch is shown to reveal the gas canister.

Other interesting exhibition zones include the one on how host cities have been transformed; the one on how environmentally responsible and sustainable the Olympic stadiums are; the one on the Olympic Village; and those on opening ceremonies, medals, emblems, posters, mascots and souvenirs, as well as the rules of the game and ethics.

Outstanding content and modern presentation techniques at the museum will definitely interest not only sport enthusiasts but people of all ages and walks of life.

The zone on the Olympic torch relay. Pichaya Svasti

The sections on the stadiums, Olympic Villages, medals, mascots and souvenirs. Pichaya Svasti

Visit for further information.

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