A visit to the MAMCO Genève en famille (GENEVA)

Have you ever been to the 🖼 MAMCO Genève?

This 🖼 modern and contemporary art museum is located in an old industrial building in the Plainpalais area of Geneva, and it offers fabulous guided visits for families on Wednesdays and on the first Sunday of each month.

MBFF has been a few times, and we love it!

MAMCO © montblancfamilyfun.com

What is the MAMCO ?

The 🖼 MAMCO (Musée d’art moderne et contemporain) is a modern and contemporary art museum, and it opened to the public in 1994.

Located in an old industrial building (now called the BAC – Batiment d’art contemporain – this is also home to the Centre d’Art Contemporain), the MAMCO has a surface area of 4000m2, and it was envisaged as an exhibition space, but also an atelier (workshop) and laboratory. All spaces in the building can be used to exhibit artwork: the reception, the stairway, the angles in the rooms, the windows, the ceiling . . .

The use of an industrial building as an exhibition space harks back to the Factory idea of Andy Warhol: « L’art contemporain trouve ( … ) dans les bâtiments industriels l’espace nécessaire à son épanouissement car depuis les années 1960, la production et la présentation de l’art ne sont plus perçues comme deux phases distinctes ; en fait depuis l’idée de « Factory » d’Andy Warhol, l’entrepôt vide semble être le lieu idéal pour activer la démystification de l’atelier et la métamorphose du musée, ancienne salle d’exposition devenue espace actif où souvent les œuvres sont créées « in situ ». » (Gabrielle Boller, Editorial, in Nike Bulletin, n°3, 1998)

Originially, back in 1860, the building was used by the the well-respected La Société genevoise d’instruments de physique (SIP) to make physics appareils, items like compasses and binoculars, and the section now housing the MAMCO was built in 1958, shortly before the end of the industrial activity (about a century of work). The original machinery required huge spaces and high ceilings, and large windows were needed to let in light. (Erwin Oberwiler, editorial in Nike Bulletin, n°3, 1998)

[ to read more about the industrial history of the MAMCO and its conversion into a museum, see article here ]

MAMCO – industrial space © montblancfamilyfun.com
MAMCO – industrial space © montblancfamilyfun.com

Permanent exhibitions

The 🖼 MAMCO’s permanent collection counts more than 6000 pieces of work from the second half of the 20thcentury until the 21th century, and half of these can be viewed online (see here). This online catalogue was put together with the support of the Fondation Leenaards, the Loterie Romande and the Fondation Lombard Odier.

MAMCO – art in the stairwell © montblancfamilyfun.com

Temporary exhibitions

With its large surface area, the MAMCO is able to expose large collections of artwork, and there are always fascinating, and constantly changing, exibitions.

see here to see what is showing at the moment; 

Verena Loewensberg at the MAMCO © MAMCO
Verena Loewensberg at the MAMCO © MAMCO

Here are some past temporary exhibitions that we’ve enjoyed . . .


Guided tours for families and children

Our boys have always enjoyed their visits to this museum – from a cave or train that you can enter, many exhibitions are very interactive (others not, so do make sure you take note of the work that you can touch, and that which you cannot!).

We once took the guided tour with our boys, and it was great.

On the first Wednesdays and the first Sunday of the month (when it is FREE for all to visit the museum), there are guided visits for youngsters and families :

Wednesday’s mini rendez-vous – this is a parcours d’éveil artistique in French, for 2 to 4 year olds (with an adult!), lasting 20 minutes / at 16h15 / reservations

Wednesday’s petit rendez-vous – an interactive guided tour in French, for 5 to 10 year olds (accompanied by an adult), lasting 45 minutes / at 16h15 / reservations

Sunday’s mini rendez-vousthis is a parcours d’éveil artistiquein French, for 2 to 4 year olds (with an adult!), lasting 20 minutes / at 11h15 and 11h40 / reservations

Sunday’s petit rendez-vous –  an interactive guided tour in French or English, for 5 to 10 year olds (accompanied by an adult), lasting 45 minutes / at 11h15 / reservations for visit in French​ and reservations for visit in English;


Things to do nearby

This fabulous museum is located a short distance away from the Plainpalais central square, which is HUGE and has a great playground and 🛹 skatepark (so pack scooters, push bikes and skateboards! And helmets, obviously!):

Playground Plainpalais © montblancfamilyfun.com
Plainpalais Skatepark, Geneva © montblancfamilyfun.com

Also nearby is the MEG (Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève), which is one of our favourite museums, with a new temporary exhibition once or twice a year. There is also a fabulous playground next door!

[ see here for more information about the MEG ]

© MEG

Eating Options nearby

If visiting on a Sunday (the museum is FREE on the first Sunday of the month), then many of the nearby restaurants will be shut (though not all).

Here are some local restaurants that are OPEN on a Sunday (though please do check!) :

  • 🍩 Loops & Coffee for amazing US-style donuts (on same road as MEG) / FB page;
  • 🥢 Umamido (Japanese ramen, on same road as MEG) / FB page;
  • 🥢 Chen, Panda Express (Chinese food, on same road as MEG);
  • 🇮🇳 Restaurant Punjabi (Indian food, on same road as MEG) / FB page;
  • 🥞 Birdie Food & Coffee (brunch, rue des Bains 40) / FB page;
  • 🍔 Holy Cow (hamburgers, rue de Carouge 14) / FB page;
  • Street Beirut (Lebanese food, avenue du Mail 2) / FB page;
  • 🍕 La Pignata (pizza, avenue du Mail 3) / FB page;
  • and street food from Plainpalais market on a Sunday;
Loops & Coffee © Laure Masot

Practical Information

opening hours: Tuesday to Friday, 12h until 18h / Saturday & Sunday, 11h to 18h / SHUT on Mondays (and most bank holidays) / summertime openings are 17h until 22h;

price: adults 15CHF / FREE for under 18s / FREE the first Sunday of each month and FREE over the summer months !

parking: there is underground paying parking at Plainpalais – see here for more details;

website & FB page

address: 10 rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 1205 Geneva, Switzerland; 

tel: +41 22 320 61 22;

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