Collections: Acquisitions 2016

January 30, 2017

In 2016, acquisitions especially revolved around the exhibitions as well as support for contemporary creation.

Thomas Sauvin, Xian, 2016, livre d’artiste fait main composé de 59 boîtes de papier noir plié © Thomas Sauvin

The Musée de l’Elysée is home to one of the largest photography collections in Europe in terms of variety and diversity. This heritage, preserved and enhanced by the museum, represents over one million phototypes documenting the entire history of photography. Spotlight on donations and acquisitions in 2016. 

For the past 31 years, the Musée de l’Elysée has overseen the preservation and enhancement of more than 170,000 positive prints, 800,000 negatives on glass and flexible supports, 100,000 plates and slides, some 1,000 albums and portfolios, and more than a dozen complete archives and collections, including those of Charles Chaplin, René Burri, Nicolas Bouvier and Ella Maillart. 

The Musée de l’Elysée maintains and manages major collections of internationally prominent photographers such as Mario Giacomelli, Gilles Caron, Geraldo de Barros and Pieter Hugo, as well as Swiss photographers such as Paul Vionnet, Constant Delessert, Hans Steiner and Jean Mohr. 

The Musée de l’Elysée is also committed to promoting young contemporary artists and mid-career artists by providing 

long-term support or support for specific projects for selected artists. Its collections are enriched every year thanks to 

purchases, entrustments and donations. 

Acquisitions are generally organized around three main axes: either they are linked to exhibition projects that make it possible to explore and develop themes and specific practices; they aim to support contemporary creation and to give it a prominent place in the collection; or they enrich bodies of work and themes that already exist in the collection or fill an existing gap. 

In 2016, acquisitions especially revolved around the exhibitions as well as support for contemporary creation. Within the framework of the exhibition La Mémoire du Futur. Dialogues photographiques entre passé, présent et futur, the museum acquired works by Takashi Arai, Binh Danh, Eadward Muybridge, France Scully Osterman, Jerry Spagnoli and Nancy Wilson-Pajic. The artist Loris Gréaud was commissioned to create an in situ work, and Pierre Cordier donated a photo-chemigram to the museum’s collection on the occasion. 

In preparation for the exhibition Sans limite. Photographies de montagne, prints by Aurore Bagarry, Thomas Bouvier, Olivier Christinat, Nicolas Crispini, Leo Fabrizio, Matthieu Gafsou, Iris Hutegger, Maurice Schobinger, Pierre Vallet and Charles Soulier were added to the museum’s collection. 

Likewise, the museum acquired works by the contemporary artists Agnès Geoffray and Mak Remissa. Following the support awarded to Steeve Iuncker’s project, Se mettre au monde, five Fresson prints by the Geneva photographer were added to the collection. In 2016, the museum also initiated support for the photographers Christian Lutz and Nicolas Savary, to be spread out over two years for projects in progress. Finally, the collection was enriched by a series of six photograms by Tibor Gayor, a contact print by André Kertesz, six Polaroids by Manfred Paul and two “folders” by Malick Sidibé. 

An atypical album by Thomas Sauvin, entitled Xian, was also added to the collections. A true work of art, it is composed of 59 origami boxes in which the collector has carefully inserted 90 prints: a series of little windows that together culminate in a certain image of 20th century China. 

In addition to acquisitions, the Musée de l’Elysée receives donations and develops its collections through specific actions: 

The School of Art and Design of Lausanne, ECAL, donated a series of 12 photographs to the Musée de l’Elysée, conceptualized by its students during a workshop directed by Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag (M/M, Paris) and taken by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. It consists of a new series of images of work that the duo has entitled Final Fantasy 2000: Who Do You Think You Are?, thus extending reflections concerning the intervention of characters through a practice that owes as much to the artistic realm as to that of fashion. 


The photographic archives of Suzi Pilet were entrusted to the Musée de l’Elysée in 2009 and are currently being catalogued. In honor of her 100th birthday, the Musée de l’Elysée presented a film about her at the Nuit des images, a portfolio in its magazine ELSE, and an evening of tribute that took place on Thursday, November 24, 2016.