The Olympic Museum (TOM) states that its "vocation is to let people discover the Olympic Movement, witnessing its essential contribution to society, and to transmit the Olympic values beyond the celebration of the Games and competitions." Discover and re-live moments of Olympic history that continue to live on through the museum.
Lausanne, Switzerland is home to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who last year inaugurated a new HQ in their home city, seen as a glistening model of ‘Sustainability and transparency’, as affirmed by IOC president Thomas Bach in his opening speech. This coincided with the committee’s 125th anniversary. The IOC also supports its own museum – TOM – the acronym for ‘The Olympic Museum’ and like the FIFA World Football Museum is one of the best sports museums anywhere in the world. Take a tour of this wonderful museum located on the shores of Lake Geneva:
- Even before you step through the entrance of the museum, your personal Olympic journey starts within the ‘Olympic Park’ that sits either side of a main ‘Olympic Walk’ staircase taking you from the shores of Lake Geneva, to the clean architectural lines of TOM (designed by Mexican architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez) in the Lausanne suburb of Ouchy and easily walkable from the city centre. Within the footprint of the park you will find a 100m running track to compare your speed against that of Usain Bolt. On the opposite side from the track. the Olympic flame burns brightly next to the Parvis forecourt, whilst modernist art sculptures such as the ‘Cycliste’ and ‘Les footballeurs’ lead you to the sliding door entrance framed by an Olympic High-jump frame set at the Olympic world record.
- Within the entrance foyer, a central spiralling walkway burrows its way through the building, depositing visitors to three main circular galleries covering, firstly, the history of the games, then onto the evolution and technology innovations of the Olympics and thirdly a zone entitled ‘The Olympic Spirit’ which explores the emotion and defines the ethos of Olympism. All of these levels are spread across some 3,000sqm of space showcasing some 1,500 objects. This clever piece of architectural design must be mentioned, as it flows seamlessly between levels, before rewarding visitors with beautiful views of the lake and mountains from the top of the building where one will find the TOM café /restaurant and several meetings spaces for hire, such as room ‘Club Coubertin’ on level 2 of the museum, which means dining in front of framed Olympic athletes past and present.
- Athletes across the globe devote their lives to compete under the Olympic rings and to bring home a medal. On level 1 of TOM, there is a space with a horse-shoe glass cabinet showcasing the Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medals stretching back to 1896; within the same area you will find several walls adorned with Olympic torches from every previous games since 1936. To cap this all off, there is the ‘London 2012 Games Olympic Truce Wall’ and the first Olympic flag from 1913 made by the department store Le Bon Marché which still hangs proud and brings Olympism to life in the most dramatic way.
- One of many spine-tingling pieces of memorabilia that kept me frozen to the spot was Jesse Owen’s running shoes, the unmistakable brown tan leather form designed by German shoemaker Adolf “Adi” Dassler who successfully lobbied not only German athletes, but Owens himself, to wear his personally handcrafted leather track shoes with extra-long spikes. The American’s triumphs helped to launch his business, and eventually Dassler would start his own company—Adidas. Also, not to be missed on Level 0 is the 180° film entitled “Inside the Race” – which will make the hairs on the neck stand up.
- The museum is not just a gallery of incredible memorabilia collected over many decades, it is also one of the most interactive visitor experiences within any museum I have ever visited. One can take their place on a podium to collect a gold medal or measure hand-eye-co-ordination at various stations which include summer and winter Olympic disciplines. There are also booths to listen to stories from athletes and volunteers alike.
For more information go to: www.olympic.org/museum