In partnership with GemGenève (May 11-14, 2023), the Museum of Art and History (MAH) is organising an off-site exhibition at the event featuring exceptional automata and other musical and artistic objets d’art from its collections.
With a policy of promoting art and culture dating back to the eighteenth century, Geneva’s Museum of Art and History is now a leading museum. 25 small to medium-sized works of art created at the turn of the nineteenth century will be exhibited by the MAH in an exclusive, temporary display open to GemGenève visitors.
The show will also feature works on loan from the International Museum of Horology at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Swiss sculptor and automaton maker François Junod, and GemGenève exhibitors.
Following on from the previous three exhibitions organised at GemGenève, this collaborative display illustrates the organisers’ desire to highlight the wealth of the heritage of jewellery and its related arts and crafts. It also raises the profile of acclaimed museum institutions such as the MAH by including them in the event’s cultural programming.
“At GemGenève, we place a strong emphasis on culture, young people, training, passing on knowledge and above all, our passion for all aspects of jewellery-making.”
Ronny Totah, Co-founder of GemGenève
The Museum of Art and History collection
The City of Geneva’s Museum of Art and History is one of Switzerland’s largest museums. Deeply rooted in the city, it is a reflection both of local history and of the ties its citizens have formed with others all over the world. Watchmaking has a very special place at the museum: practised since the sixteenth century, it went hand in hand with the expansion of far-reaching trade networks, bringing together converging technological innovations and developing exceptional expertise.
The wide range of items in the care of the MAH highlight watch mechanisms and related inventions in the field of mechanical art such as watch movements, musical boxes, and automata. The latter are something of a case apart blending technical prowess, history, philosophy and even magic.
Musical quarter repeater pocket watch with automaton
Capt & Janin
Geneva, Mende, c.1810
Polished, engraved gold, painted enamel
The automaton’s right arm plays the lyre throughout the melody (straight blade mechanism)
City of Geneva Museum of Art and History, Inv. AD 5706
The display being prepared for the GemGenève exhibition highlights the fascination exerted by the sounds and imitation gestures produced by automaton and musical box technology and machinery: tunes of the day, folk songs, more exotic melodies and animated genre scenes were all incorporated into an objet d’art.
25 small to medium-sized works of art created at the turn of the nineteenth century will be exhibited by the MAH in an exclusive, temporary display open to GemGenève visitors. The show will also feature works on loan from the International Museum of Horology at La Chaux-de-Fonds.