In the 19th century, the ethnology collection followed a tangled path and its eventful history matches that of the Cantonal Museum. The objects were spread between various collections, which, like cabinets of curiosities, consisted of antiquities, objects belonging to natural science, paintings, etc. These groups of objects we moved many times, going from the Bibliothèque cantonale (Cantonal Library) in the early century to the Academy in 1820 and then to the musée des Antiquités (Museum of Antiquities) in around 1850 before arriving at the archaeology museum.

Statuette made of wood brass, leather, seeds and feathers. Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yaka People?

The origin of the collection is fixed at 1866, when the private collection of its curator Frédéric Troyon, which consisted of ethnological objects, was bequeathed to the museum. It has therefore been in existence for more than 150 years. It was set up gradually and randomly with donations, bequests and purchases.

Painted Wooden Mace. Africa, Angola, Chokwe People.

It currently includes more than 3,000 objects from all the continents and of varied quality, from knick-knacks and exotic souvenirs to unique exceptional objects. Today, the ethnology collection is not displayed in the permanent exhibitions but held in the MCAH's reserves in Lucens.

Painted Wooden Dish, incrusted with ivory and mother-of-pearl. North America, North-West Coast, Haida People?

Exhibition Catalogue (in French)

. Comptoir ethnographique, Espace Arlaud, Lausanne, du 11 avril au 29 juin 1997.

Figurine in the Form of a Salmon, in bone. North America, Alaska, Ketchikan.

Painted Wooden Spears. Oceania, New Guinea, Asmat People.

Online Supplement (in French)

. La collection indo-océanienne du MCAH (.xlsx)

Lei Niho Palaoa Garland, woven human hair, sperm whale tooth. Oceania, Hawaii.

  1. Photo Credits : Yves André © MCAH