Museum of Ethnography of Neuchâtel is a museum in Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel Canton, Switzerland. It has been housed since 1904 by the former Evole Pury, the residence of the family of the same name. It presents permanent exhibitions on ancient Egypt, on the Himalayas (collections of Bhutan and Tibet), the eighteenth century Cabinet of Natural History Century of General Charles-Daniel de Meuron and the Cabinet of curiosities of the twentieth century.
The history of the collections of the Museum of Ethnography of Neuchâtel (MEN) goes back to the 18th century, the first pieces being from the Cabinet of Natural History of General Charles Daniel de Meuron given to the City in 1795. After several moves and shares, The ethnographic collection was transferred to the hill of Saint-Nicolas in the villa offered by James-Ferdinand de Pury to install the MEN, inaugurated on July 14, 1904.
The museum’s first collections come from Charles Daniel de Meuron’s natural history cabinet, which was donated to the city in 1795. After several movements, the museum was officially inaugurated on July 14, 1904 on the hill of Saint-Nicolas in a villa bequeathed in 1902 By James-Ferdinand de Pury.
The collection was then enlarged by the objects brought back by many Neuchâtel missionaries.
The successive conservatives were Louis de Coulon between 1829 and 1894, who was also director of the museums of the city, his name being found in the history of the Museum of Natural History, Frédéric DuBois de Montperreux between 1840 and 1848, Frédéric de Bosset Between 1886 and 1892, Charles Knapp between 1892 and 1921, and Théodore Delachaux between 1921 and 1945. Delachaux directed an ethnographic expedition to Angola between 1932 and 1933. Jean Gabus, who made expeditions to the Eskimos, Africa, was director between 1945 and 1978 and Jacques Hainard between 1980 and 2006. Currently, it is Marc-Olivier Gonseth who is the curator.
In 1954-55 was built a building for temporary exhibitions, decorated to the north of a wall painting by Hans Erni The conquests of man. In 1986, a new construction was inserted between the two previous ones in order to allow the extension of the Institute of Ethnology of the University. Financially separated, the two institutions are no less complementary. They share the same library and occasionally engage in joint ventures.
Today, the MEN houses some 50,000 objects, more than half of which are represented by African collections: East and South Africa; Angola of the 1930s; Sahara and Sahel (Tuaregs and Moors); Gabon. It also maintains Asian, Eskimo and Oceanian collections, extra-European musical instruments and pieces from ancient Egypt.
Contributes to the development of museums open to everyday life. Widely recognized as innovative, challenging and even provocative, its exhibitions offer visitors an original reflection on a theme closely related to current events and put into perspective by the look that is both implied and distant from ethnology. They involve indifferently the here and elsewhere, the prestigious and the banal, the craftsman and the industrialist as signs of a complex and culturally oriented reality.
In such a framework, objects are not exposed for themselves but because they fit into a discourse because they become the arguments of a story that puts one or the other into perspective Their characteristics, whether they are aesthetic, functional or symbolic. Sometimes described as criticism or destabilization, such an approach aims to allow visitors to relativize their perceptions, to deconstruct their knowledge and to interrogate their certainties in order to lead them to rethink their reality.
The history of the collections of the Museum of Ethnography of Neuchâtel (MEN) dates back to the 18th century, when in 1795 General Charles Daniel de Meuron gave his natural history cabinet to the City of Neuchâtel.
At the beginning of the 20th century, James-Ferdinand de Pury offered his villa to the municipal authorities on condition that an ethnographic museum was installed there. The ethnographic collection of the Museum of Neuchâtel was then transferred and the Museum was inaugurated on July 14, 1904.
Today, the MEN houses some 50,000 objects, about half of which are represented by African collections: East and South Africa; Angola of the 1930s; Sahara and Sahel (Tuaregs and Moors); Gabon. It also maintains Asian, Eskimo and Oceanian collections, extra-European musical instruments and pieces from ancient Egypt. From 1984, its collection of everyday industrial objects – manufactured in the four corners of a globalized world – is becoming increasingly important to be one of its strong points today.