Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art - MAMCO
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is situated in a 4 stories building, originally a physical laboratory, remade into a museum in little untraditional, but perfectly fitting way. Together with Centre for Contemporary Art, MAMCO is located next to Patek Philippe Museum and close to Plainpalais, in a hub of art galleries and stylish Coffeehouses.
The museum is stylish, modern and different. Contemporary artists were experimenting with new forms and styles of arts, trying to step out from established routines in art, shift it to a whole new levels and to discover new ways of doing arts. Event though they are sometimes pointing to the past, they want to distinguish themselves and be original.
Dragging the viewer inside of the artist's world, inducing him to new points of view and new perspectives and making him wonder.
If You are art lover, take at least 2 hours but better more to get through the exposition. Don't expect to see classical museum, or You might walk out disappointed pretty quickly. To understand modern and conteporary art works presented here, that on the first look might make no sense, we stongly recommened the great guided tours avaiable (in English too) or visiting during weekends, when the young artists are avaiable to guide You through the museum personally. More info read below.
Just opposit the MAMCO, in the same complex of buildings, is Centre for Contemporary Art, where the young and not-yet recognized modern and contemporary artists are having their exhibitions. Open Tuesday - Sunday 11-18, entrance fee 5CHF (2CHF reduced), free on the first Sunday of the month.
Understand - Staircase
First thing that will attract Your attention is a bomb timer placed above the escalator, counting down time remaining until the sun will explode. Currently on little under 5 billion years, when it comes off, there is a little bomb inside that will explode too. Paradoxically, this timer is powered by a solar power collector getting the energy from Sun. When the museum was open for the public for the first time, in 1984, there was not so many pieces available to present, so the first exhibition was held only on the staircase. The main trigger were 4 geometrical works made from various neon lights which also represents letters that can be put into the words - ART, TEXT, LIGHT, SIGN explaining the idea of this art itself.
Understand - 1st floor
The first floor is called FlatLand, according to a book from 18th century, contemplating about how would it be if we would live in only 2 dimensions and experimenting with passing from 2D to 3D, illustrated by red crumpled plastic 2D foil, but entering into third dimension because it is crumpled. Artists were trying to use minimum of material, going as far as not even painting on canvas, but directly on the buildings, walls, floors; also discovering what are the limits of minimalism in art. This is demonstrated by a simple circle drawn on the ground by a chalk. The circle will vanish eventually and that is fine, as artists verge against the antique's concept of everlasting arts. As a matter of fact, because the museum is only 20 years old but this painting - the 10th circle, was "created" in 1968, it isn't even original. But it doesn't matter, because the idea, the concept of the art is important and is the art itself, physical manifestation is not necessary.
Next to circle is tall stack of very thin papers with unclear images that can represent stars as well as lights of the reflectors. Artist is wondering how thin and fragile the work can be before it evaporates into the air and vanish for good - where is the limit? Also people can take one or two papers from the stack to their homes, hang it in their living room - so the art piece is not located on one place, but can be distributed and live it's own life everywhere (don't take the paper).
Artists were also trying to use the waste materials for the art, as seen on some sculptures.
On the first floor all art pieces are stored on the ground, there is no pedestal - as artists were against classical effort to impress the visitor. Many works are made from not long lasting materials, as again, artist didn't want to continue with the idea that art has to be everlasting.
MAMCO consists of permanent and temporary expositions all mixed together. Temporary exhibition makes up the largest part and is constantly renewed 4 times a year, so art lovers will always find a fresh inspiration. Permanent collection is based upon life work of Philippe Thomas, born in Nice in 1951, who opened an agency 'readymades belong to everyone®' first in New York City and soon after also in Paris, where he lived most of his life. Agency was having a commercial objective, coming up with projects and advertising campaigns - bridging contemporary arts to a commercial use. That's why the trademark in the name.
Thomas Philippe came with an idea that everyone can do arts, not only artists. He was explaining that art is being created already when the idea of the art is born in mind, sometimes it's not even necessary to materialise it. Anybody could join him at his workshop and become an artist, under the header of his agency. This concept can be visible across the whole exhibition on the second floor, listing names of various people contributing to the same project.
On the third floor is an exact copy of his room in Paris, where he and the first director of MAMCO used to sit and contemplate about art. The room is very minimalistic, operating with the ideas rather then physical forms. The unfinished cube frames are about to trigger Your cognitive functions to finish the image of cube in Your mind. Words IN and OUT stuck on the windows are also interesting: OUT is always outer side of the window.
How to get there
Its little tricky to find an entrance to this Museum, as it is located just next to the contemporary center, but newly added signs will guide You. Entrance is from Rue Gourgas, which is neighboring to west with Plainpalais. The bus stop at the corner - Genève, Bains, buses: 2, 19, 27, or take bus to Ecole de Médecine (Plainpalais), walk opposite the passing cars and turn left on the first corner.
Around the Museum is a great area for cafés and restaurants, from which don't miss Curiositas, as well as over 15 contemporary arts galleries such as Red Zone Arts at Rue des Bains 40 open Wednesday - Saturday from noon till 18:30.
Lockers are situated at the underground floor and it is mandatory to leave Your bag and coat there, as the art pieces are behind no protection and could be stolen. The deposit for lockers is CHF2 coin. Sometimes it happens that the coin gets stuck in the lock - in this case just push it inside with another coin or flat object so it gets inside.
If You are coming from a place not familiar with Contemporary Art, we recommend You to take a guided tour to get a better understanding of the exposition. Many pieces here are seemingly making no sense, only after understanding relations and the context behind You will start to see the value and more appreciate displayed pieces.
Guided tours are possible after previous appointment (15 days ahead) for groups of up to 25 people in French, English, German and Spanish language at a rates around CHF 120 per tour.
If the guided tour is not an option, You are invited to chat with friendly staff.
Regular and free guided tours: Guided tours are taking place every Sunday at 3pm in French and every Wednesday at 7pm in English. The tour takes about 1 hour and goes to 4th and 3rd floor. Every first Sunday and every first Wednesday of the month these tours are for free.
Guided tours for kids: every Sunday at 11:15am and every Wednesday at 15:15 is taking place interactive and entertaining 45min tour for 5-10 years old children accompanied by an adult. As well, every first Sunday and every first Wednesday of the month these tours are free.
We recommend to make an appointment for a guided tour apart from the free ones, just to be sure there is one going on.
|Musée d'art moderne et contemporain
|10, rue des Vieux-Grenadiers,
|+41 22 320 61 22
|+41 22 781 56 81
|Normal tariff: 8CHF
|Tuesday - Friday: 12-18
|Reduced tariff: 6CHF (artists, teachers, pensioners)
|Saturday - Sunday: 11-18
|Free*: Children up to 18 year old, students, journalists, art critics, unemployed, disabled.
*Free entry also on the first Sunday of the month, including free one hour guided tour at 3pm (in French) and on the first Wednesday of the month at the evening from 6pm-9pm, including free guided tour in English at 7pm. At both days the local artists are available to answer Your questions and talk with You about whatever You're interested in.
Free wifi, free toilet, elevator - handicap accessible. Coffee machine, chairs and tables at the entrance hall, art related flyers and magazines to read.
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