LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND, February 20, 2017 – The Winter Olympics are headed to the home stretch in PyeongChang, South Korea, but when they are over there’s a strong year-round substitute at the home of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland.
You don’t have to be a lover of sports to enjoy Lausanne’s Olympic Museum because it embraces the ideals of athletics rather than purely winning and losing.
Pierre de Fredy, Baron de Coubertin
Rather, competition, art, culture, the human spirit and international goodwill were the goals of Pierre de Fredy, Baron de Coubertin, the dreamer who revived the Olympic Games in 1896.
De Coubertin’s idealistic concept to unite the countries of the world through athletic competition, followed the philosophy of “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”
The father of the modern Olympic movement conceived the idea of restoring the Olympic ideal in 1889 and seven years later the first modern games were held in Athens, Greece.
As Pierre de Coubertin himself often repeated,
“The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”
In the 100-plus years that have transpired since Coubertin’s first games in Greece, controversy has probably been more in evidence than the athletic ideals espoused by their founder, but the spirit of the baron’s concept never wanes at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.
The Olympic Museum
Situated on a terraced esplanade overlooking Lake Geneva, the white Greek marble building glistens in the sun as its gardens and sculptures seep toward the shores of the lake.
The Olympic Museum is the perfect museum for people who don’t like museums. With its rare combination of history, art, athletics and global cultural exchange, this is a site that can be found nowhere else in the world.
The sculpture park leading down to the lake contains numerous pieces centering around a theme of athletics and competition. When combined with the art, however, the museum features thousands of historical objects including Olympic torches from all of the games, equipment, medals and interactive displays where visitors can access virtually any event that has ever been recorded.
The baron’s advocacy for the Olympics evolved from several ideals he believed about athletic competition.
The spirit of Greece alive in the Olympics
To de Coubertin, the ancient games, which were held every four years in Olympia, Greece, encouraged the spirit of competition among amateur athletes while setting aside the rivalries of war by promoting peace through the cultural interchange.
The precise longevity of the original games is not known. They began in 776 B.C.E. and continued until either 261 or 393 AD.
Other attempts to revive the Olympic movement were made prior to Baron de Coubertin’s success, the most notable of which happened in London in 1866 when Dr. William Penny Brookes held a series of contests at the Crystal Palace.
Though Brookes’ concept of an international track meet did not materialize, his games were the first time that “Olympic-style” competitions on a national scale had ever been held outside of Greece.
In a city layered with museums, the Olympic Museum in Lausanne is by far the brightest star attracting more than a quarter of a million visitors each year. Its purpose is to perpetuate the philosophies about which Baron de Coubertin was so deeply passionate.
Perhaps the official message of the museum states it best,
“The Olympics is much more than a mere sporting competition. It is a philosophy of life that is rooted in the depths of time, sport, art and culture are the traditional pillars of the Olympics.”
While sports may be the initial attraction of the Olympic Museum, the venue never lets travelers forget that art and culture must be included in the blend in order to fulfill the purpose of the movement. As Coubertin put it, “Olympism is a state of mind.”
It is important to note that travelers holding a Swiss Travel System Pass are entitled to free admission. Hours from mid-October to the end of April 30 are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. From the beginning of May to October 14 the hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland is a museum of the ages for all ages.
The Olympic Games are the world’s greatest five-ring circus.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime
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