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Film: Transformation of the Olympic Museum

In this presentation Frédérique Jamolli, Head of International Cultural Development for the International Olympic Museum shared her mission to reposition the Olympic Museum as a multisite, multicultural institution. Frédérique spoke at MuseumNext Geneva in April 2015.

Frédérique: Good morning to everybody. So my idea today is to tell you how we renovate the Olympic Museum, which is in Lausanne, and then this project was also made to have a tool for the IOC cultural strategies. So I wanted to share with you some idea of how we built this museum and what we manage today.

So, this is it. So, for those who don’t know, Lausanne is very near from here, along the Geneva Lake, and it’s quite well located in terms of the field we are dealing with, with a lot of international sport federations in the same city. And also it’s in the middle of Europe, so we are well connected to different countries and used to a [play] with different cultural institution.

So this is where we are. And this is the Olympic Museum. We have a new roof and we renovated it more than one year and a half ago. So, the purpose of the renovation was about different things. We had to renovate the building to meet some new Swiss laws, but also we wanted to develop a new experience for the visitor coming here in Lausanne, and not only the journey inside the galleries, but from the entrance of the [unintelligible 00:01:48].

We renovate infrastructure and services; the shop, the restaurant, and different things, and we developed new messages within the journey and you will see that it was made in a way that we can reuse everything. It’s not only about sustainability but opportunities, and let’s have some idea about that.

So, why we did that? Actually, our topic is quite strange because every two years, we have another story to tell about new Olympic Games. So, as it was a presentation with chronology, we were typically at the end of the world … the walls. Sorry about my English. So, yes, I told you there were new laws in Switzerland, and it’s not that we were not following the laws, but once you close the museum, once you close something, then you have to reopen it and once you reopen it, you have to follow everything, every law. So, question of human resources also, to think differently and, of course, we took care of the storages and different things like that that are backstage.

Also, we wanted to have a content more flexible, and you will see how we did it in order, once again, to develop new content for new projects outside the museum. And we wanted to reach different audiences, of course, [focus] on the youth but not only; and different audiences. That means people coming from different parts of the world because we can consider that this museum, I will tell you later, is like a kind of laboratory. And especially what I want to talk about this morning is to create a tool to serve the IOC, International Olympic Committee, cultural strategy.

So, how we did that? We decided to have a journey built on [themeatics]. It’s more attractive and it’s easier to update. And also, it’s easier to take a part of your presentation to readapt and have something elsewhere with different audiences. So, we also wanted to have a journey made as, I would say, Hollywood movie, you know? When you have a movie which is good, then you have a sort of dramaturgy which is sometimes quiet, sometimes very emotional, sometimes very [unintelligible 00:04:52], so that the journey will be attractive for different audiences.

Of course, different level of information, level of emotion also, balanced between object and images and, as you can imagine, we have full of object but it’s not La Joconde. It’s object … very interesting once you develop story-telling and you tell the story behind and you put the context around the object. And you can do that mostly with images. And, as I said, every two years, we have a new story to tell and we wanted to have a human approach and tell about not only the big Middle Eastern Olympic champion and so on but, actually, our movement is made with different types of profile and we wanted to give to our visitor an idea of what the Olympic Movement is about. And also which is very interesting is that Olympism is not only about sport, it’s also about different thematics. As you can see, we can talk about art, architecture, design, but also nutrition, politics, doping and different things like that. So it’s very diversified; it’s inside the museum; you can discover that during your journey, during your visit but, of course, it’s also an opportunity to have some connection and partnership with other institutions and other networks.

We wanted also to take care about legacy, and we wanted to have this museum as a tool to diffuse our messages and to have collaboration and partnership with other institutions to serve the Olympic Movement and develop projects for different stakeholders, but also to have partnership with other institutions that are not connected to our world thanks to different thematics. Of course, all the content was archived in a way that it can be reused, adapted and developed for new project.

So, some figures; don’t worry, I will not go through all of them in details. But just to give you an idea, we welcome actually more than 200,000 visitors last year. It was 260,000 visitors, but it was the first year, and we hope to continue with that level of visitors. But the idea is not only to have visitors in Lausanne but, once again, to use this content to have more and more visitors on different platforms, in travelling exhibitions, but also in digital, and so on. So this is it.

In the product [unintelligible 00:08:05] development that we have, we are quite classical, as you can imagine. We have exhibition; permanent, temporary, travelling, on digital, and so on. We develop a lot of publication and educational material which is great to be developed for other stakeholders, especially inside what we call the Olympic Movement. I’ll always speak about the Olympic Movement. For those who don’t know, the Olympic Movement is the International Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committees mostly in most … all of the countries of the world; 204 National Olympic Committees, and the International Federation and different recognised associations. So, for all those people, we have to have imagination and use our content to serve their project.

Also, we have a lot of multimedia material. You can imagine, we have a lot of images, and it’s also a way in the museum to have different levels of information, [unintelligible 00:09:20] the interest of the visitors. Of course, items … items related to images, but also a lot of items to have loans all around the world. Cultural event, and also finally social media, [web dock], and different things like that.

So I told you, the Olympic Museum is a real laboratory. We are happy to welcome 75 persons for visitors coming from outside the region. Actually, more than half of our visitors are foreigners. So imagine we have to adapt our content to be available and understandable to different people and different cultural background. So this is why it’s not only a typology of people, but it’s also a typology of countries and the cultural approach.

So we had the ambition to come from a local museum somewhere in Switzerland, somewhere in the middle of Europe; in a country which is touristic, but in a city which is more dedicated to business tourism. So the way to attract the people is quite difficult because most of the time, people are coming to Lausanne for business. So the idea was to become more global.

I have to tell you that the museum is not only one of the departments of the IOC, actually, it belongs to the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage. This foundation is based on four pillars; the collection, the patrimony, the IOC patrimony, which is very diversified in terms of content, in terms also of chronology and in terms of typology of items. So it’s mainly objects, very diversified, images and archives. Also, we have an Olympic Study Centre, which is the source for Olympic knowledge, and we have here targets which is more academic; the museum itself, and then the international cultural development which is developed to have … to implement the IOC cultural strategy, once again, within the Olympic Movement, and also beyond.

So, very shortly, the IOC cultural strategy is based on different things; networking, lobbying, and public relation, which is of use maybe for all of them but not so that for us. Why? Because I always … I used to say that we are a little bit schizophrenic sometimes. When you speak to sport people, they said, oh, you are from the cultural world, and when you speak with cultural people, they said, but you are talking about sport. So we have to convince everybody that sport is a cultural phenomenon and Olympism is a way to speak about society.

After that, we want to support the Olympic family and help, for instance, all the national communities to develop cultural projects because some are very used to doing that; for others, it’s not that obvious because they are more used to take care of athletes but not to develop culture project. Then we have the mission to diffuse what we are doing in the museum and find partnership, but also to develop what we call the Agenda 2020 which is a strategy crude map of our President, and he wanted to rethink about different fields within the IOC, within the Olympic Movement. Could it be the age of the IOC members, the number of sport during the games, plus also big thematic around culture. And in that framework, we implement different projects.

Some examples of our international activities. Actually, we have something very close to us which is the Olympic Museums Network. We are not the only museum in the world; actually, there are around 20 Olympic Museums. With them, we develop a network and they have to sign an MOU, and then we can work together. It’s not only to have conferences like this one, but also to share experience, to develop some common project, and so on.

Then we want, as I said, to share the content of what we have done with the museum, which is called Museum 2020, and we want to put at the disposal of the different partners the content that have developed. Could it be post-production, multimedia or different things like that? And then, of course, travelling an [extraneous] exhibition and partnership.

So this is where our different Olympic Museums … actually in four continents for the moment. Unfortunately, there are none in Africa for the moment. You can see in green some points. Actually, there are more than 22 Olympic Museums if we consider that everybody can open a room with items related to Olympics and decide that it’s a museum. But when I talk about Olympic Museum Network, that means they are big enough to collaborate between each other. And, of course, it’s part of our DNA; we have to collaborate with the different parts of the world with travelling exhibitions, for instance, but also to share educational programmes and so on.

So, once again, we have different stakeholders; we want to take some initiative with them and we have different networks to reach. For instance, if we have an exhibition about design, will be about … we have design museums. If it’s about technology, we’ll be with science museum, and so on, and so on.

So, this is quite complicated. Here we are. So as you see, we have many stakeholders within the … in Olympic Movement. And for each of them, there are different needs and we have to adapt. If you deal with a sponsor once you have activation, that means you have to develop something dedicated to that, but keep in mind that they are commercial, you are cultural. So you have to find a mix. And then also, you have to take into account the different culture. I’m just back from Rio, for instance; I was there last week. And it’s not only that we have to adapt our content, should they be interested in it, in terms of the language, the dimension, the content, customised with Brazilian athletes, and so on, it’s also, as you can imagine, to adapt yourself the way they work. And it’s very important to have that in mind each time you develop a project.

So the topics for the Olympic Movement are quite fundamental and classical for us. We can speak about the torch relay, victories, athletes, our founder, Pierre de Coubertin, antiquity and so on, and so on. There are different things. And everything we have done in the museum can be duplicated; for instance, some images of what we have done. You can see some post-production display and there, for instance, you can ask about an addition of the game and then you will have the content to explain to the people that Olympic Games are not alone and are not closed things, but they are related to society. And sometimes what happened in the stadium will have an impact on society. But the contrary is true, of course, with, as you can imagine, emancipation of different people with some protests and different things. So there is a connection between the game and society and this is a display which was duplicated for different Olympic museums, for instance, because it’s so important to put everything in perspective. And, of course, we have sport and competition and how to go beyond yourself and different topics like that.

We also have learn zones in the museum, and that’s very important to be able to duplicate them because it’s very important to reach also children’s museum, for instance. And also, it’s not full of images and technologies and so on; we have also mechanical interactivities, and in that way, it’s also something we duplicate for different events. For instance, you can test your balance, you can test your reaction, you can test your concentration, long-term training and different things.

So this is for the Olympic Movement. But our ambition is also to reach institutions beyond the Olympic Movement, frankly, to gain some credibility and visibility, and also to reach different audiences. So the topic can be very diversified. Media technology; nowadays, we have an exhibition about broadcasting in Lausanne; could be about doping, and then you can reach different people. With nutrition also, but also art, and we have within the Agenda 2020, the project to commission artists, and different topics, very diversified, that open different networks.

For those topics, we develop different projects, and could be travelling exhibition, of course, and the most simple, easy to give to the people on the other side of the world is maybe photographic exhibition. But also some exhibition dedicated to the youth and this is an example that I like. It’s The Hope Factory, and it’s an exhibition to explain to the young people about fair play. And the young visitor enters exhibition and he can choose two ways; either he will cheat and be sure to win, or he can choose the hardest way, not cheating, but not to be sure to win. He can choose. But, after that, there is a discussion, there is a workshop, and it’s a way to explain the Olympic values.

Also, I told you about our broadcasting exhibition, which is called Behind the Scenes, to explain how … to explain the evolution of broadcasting and the evolution of the way we wanted to reach the most people we can through; of course, first newspapers, and then radio, and then TV, and then all the other digital platforms, and so on. And it’s all about what happens backstage during the games. It’s a huge thing and this is something we can develop in communication … you interrupt me; I’m lost … communication museum, for instance, or another example which is Olympic design. We are working now with the V&A in London to develop this exhibition which has to be travelling in the future and we developed not only the network and how we will diffuse it but also the content because we are specialist in Olympic design, and we are specialist in design general. So once again, we want to put things in perspective and have an idea of a contextualisation.

To finish my presentation, I decided to suggest you a quote of Pierre de Coubertin, our founder, because I’m sure you still think that maybe sport is sport and culture is something different, and I let you read this sentence about the relationship between sport and culture which is exactly what we are doing every day. So, thank you.

Presenter: Thank you. Please stay for a while because I’ve seen on Twitter there are questions. But maybe … there’s a question there already. Please.

Female Voice: I’m not sure if this is on.

Presenter: It’s not on, but if you scream, I’ll repeat the question.

Female Voice: Hello.

Presenter: Hello. The question is hello. Tell me.

Female Voice: [Unintelligible].

Presenter: No, but if you tell it, I’ll repeat the question.

Female Voice: One of the questions that I have, actually, is one of the things that … I actually put it on Twitter because I was listening to your presentation, and one of the things that I was actually … I wasn’t sure if the Paralympics is part of the Olympic Movement or not.

Presenter: I’ll repeat the question for you. The question is, is the Paralympic movement part of the Olympic experience or not?

Frédérique: Actually, they are part of the Olympic Movement, but it’s a community which is not … actually, it’s another community. And it’s not because the IOC decided that, but they wanted to remain independent. But what we are doing is also made for disabled people, and that’s true that, for instance, when we have an exhibition during the Games, as they have the Paralympics just after, we try to put everything in place and let our infrastructure for them, we have to adapt, but we have a lot of connection in order to have this kind of legacy.

Female Voice: The accessibility is what I mentioned in the public. Why [unintelligible 00:25:33] the public was mentioned the Paralympic that said [unintelligible [00:25:36] participate in the Olympics [unintelligible 00:25:41]. Thank you very much. It’s just that because when you associate the Olympic Museum or the Olympic Movement, I associate that also to the Paralympics. When you speak about widening the audiences, why don’t the museums don’t take that into consideration of people that have deficiencies or visual or audio or even in the case of the Paralympics [unintelligible 00:26:07] physical –

Frédérique: In terms of content, we have a special section dedicated to the Paralympics which is already something. But in the journey, we took into account the fact that there are disabled people, and there are things for the blind people; they can touch some reproductions. We have a better idea. There are things in [braille]. In English, I don’t know. But, you know, when you touch and you can read. And also some special audio guide made for them and different tools like that.

Female Voice: Thank you very much.

Presenter: Thank you, thank you. We’re going to hold the other questions for later because we were slightly over time and I’d like to thank you so much for –

Frédérique: Thank you to you.

In this presentation Frédérique Jamolli from Head of International Cultural Development for the International Olympic Museum shared her mission to reposition the Olympic Museum as a multisite, multicultural institution. Frédérique spoke at MuseumNext Geneva in April 2015.

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