La Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny is one of my all time favourite museums! There are some fantastic temporary exhibitions organised here (every 6 months the main exhibition is changed, and past exhibtions have included: Klee, Goya, Rodin, Giacometti, Moore, Modigliani, Claudel, Chagall, Braque, Dégas, Manet, Dufy, Miró, Gauguin, Bonnard, Van Gogh, Picasso, Morisot . . . ), the building itself is an architectural gem (to my eyes!) and the sculpture garden is a real treasure trove. The outdoor space adapts with each season, and so a spring visit is a totally different experience to a visit in autumn or summer or winter.
The Fondation Pierre Gianadda is three museums in one: there is the space dedicated to the current exhibitions (usually paintings, sculptures or photography); there is a collection of Gallo-Roman artefacts (Musée Gallo-Romain), and there is a room in the basement with a collection of old cars (about fifty vehicles dating from 1897 to 1939)! The museum is also used to host classical concerts.
Visiting La Fondation Pierre Gianadda with small children
Having visited already in my life pre-children, I was keen to introduce our eldest to this museum when he was 18 months old . . . despite not being a museum geared towards small children specifically, there is still a great deal to keep little minds occupied, and so the visit was a success. Fast forward a few more years, and with a now 6 year old and three year old in tow, the experience is a bit more challenging! But still manageable (just about!).
A visit with children takes a bit of planning, so here are some handy hints (tried and tested by the MBFF team!):
- This is one museum that you don’t really want to visit on a rainy day, as the sculpture garden is a pure joy, and it would be a shame to miss this experience due to rain: as well as sculptures that are really appealing to children (sheep, wolves, a giant apple, a giant thumb), you are allowed to walk on the grass, there is a duck pond, giant bamboo, the remains of Gallo-Roman thermal baths . . . do bear in mind, of course, that the artwork is not a climbing frame (I did turn my back during our last visit to find – to my horror – my littlest climbing a work by Chillida!);
- Eating options: there are picnic tables in the sculpture garden. Alternatively, you could head to the Roman ampitheatre (a hop and a skip away from the museum) for a picnic before or after your visit (a short walk through the carpark and across a busy road; there are more picnic tables en-route). There is also a café/restaurant in the garden. For a really atmospheric coffee stop, there is a small bar/café next to the cars in the basement!
- If your children are too young to enjoy the exhibition, and you find that they are being a little too unruly and – hence – rendering your visit a bit too challenging (yes, this has on occasion happened to us!), then the adults can take it in turns to have a quiet moment in front of the artwork, while the children are kept occupied outside (not alone, clearly!);
- Be sure to visit the vintage car display downstairs!
- There is a small playground opposite the museum and a couple more within walking distance to the museum (there is one next to the Salle du Midi car park, on rue Délèze 19). See here for a list of playgrounds in Martigny.
The story behind the Fondation Pierre Gianadda
The engineer Léonard Gianadda discovered the remains of an ancient Celtic temple in the spring of 1976. Shortly after this discovery, his beloved younger brother Pierre died while searching for help for his fellow survivors in the aftermath of a plane crash. In the wake of this tragic event, Léonard decided to create a foundation so that the memory of Pierre could live on, and he chose to build this on the grounds of the Celtic temple. The Fondation Pierre Gianadda was very fittingly inaugurated on what would have been Pierre’s 40th birthday: 19th November 1978. What a truly wonderful memorial to a loved one.
The museum is open daily: from 10h to 18h November to June and from 9h to 19h June until November;
Handicapped access: yes
Adults: CHF 18;
Senior Citizens (60+ years): CHF 16;
Children and Students: CHF 10;
Families: CHF 38;
*GOOD TO KNOW: visitors to the Fondation Pierre Gianadda are entitled to a 30% reduction on the admission price to Barryland – Musée et chiens du Saint-Bernard on presentation of their entrance ticket, and the reverse is also applicable.*
Fondation Pierre Gianadda
rue du Forum 59
Tel: +41 (0)27 722 39 78
Parking: there is plentiful FREE parking on-site.
Train: if you are staying in Chamonix, then you could take the Mont Blanc Express train all the way to Martigny station (1hr45); from here, there are free shuttle buses that take you to the museum entrance.
*Gift Shop – there is a gift shop within the exhibtion; a great stop for postcards and books! You may be asked to leave big bags here!*