Inauguration of the Olympic Museum
and the Olympic Studies Centre
in Ouchy

The opening of The Olympic Museum at the Quai d’Ouchy in 1993 finally achieved a century-long ambition held by both Olympic leaders and the City of Lausanne.

It made certain that the legacy of Olympic sport would be preserved and presented for future generations.

For much of the early 20th century, the IOC had been based in the Villa Mon-Repos in the northern part of the city. Baron Pierre de Coubertin had living quarters within the house and was keen to establish a museum. In time, a modest collection was added, and the study used by Coubertin himself was preserved.

In 1968, the IOC moved its headquarters across the city to Vidy. The city fathers had discussed the project of another Olympic Museum as early as 1969, but the idea really took flight when Juan Antonio Samaranch became IOC President in 1980.

The following year, the IOC was granted special status as an international organisation in Lausanne, and on 23 June 1982 an interim museum opened in Avenue Ruchonnet, close to the railway station in the centre of the city.

IOC President Samaranch was accompanied by Mayor Paul-René Martin to inaugurate a modest building which nonetheless included an Olympic Studies Centre with a small library “for the collaboration of all those interested in Olympism”. It included a reconstruction of Coubertin’s original study, complete with his desk and personal effects.

A site for a much larger museum had already been identified at the Quai d’Ouchy on the shores of Lake Léman. Construction began in 1988 and the preparatory excavation of the site alone took a full year. The plans were even modified to accommodate a 100-year-old oak tree which was growing on the site.

The layout of the new complex was designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez (MEX) and Jean-Pierre Cahen (SUI), the same architectural team that had designed Olympic House in Vidy in 1986. The museum building, spread over five levels, occupied some 11,000 square metres, and the parklands around a further 12,000 square metres. In time, the approaches would be populated with statues commemorating great Olympic performances.

The ceremonies to open the new museum took place on Olympic Day, 23 June. King Juan Carlos of Spain, an Olympian himself, was present for the opening, alongside Swiss Confederation President Adolf Ogi and Lausanne Mayor Yvette Jaggi. A flame had been lit by laser and was carried from Geneva to Lausanne. Double Olympic figure skating champion Katarina Witt lit the eternal flame in a receptacle specially designed by André Ricard, who had created the cauldron for the Barcelona Games. Inspired by the legend of Prometheus, it was intended to be “innovative without offending against the Olympic spirit”.

At this occasion, Juan Antonio Samaranch said that “Coubertin’s vision became a reality with the opening of this new ultra modern museum” and with the “Olympic Study Centre which will seek to become the international focus of learning for the history of Olympism”.

More information

The Olympic Museum
Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage

The Olympic Museum is a destination and a content creator, as product are distributed by the cultural hub.

The Olympic Museum in Lausanne (Switzerland) (TOM) is the essential storyteller for the Olympic idea. The Museum is not about a collection, it is about an idea: Olympism. 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.

History, culture, design, technology and sociology are some of the themes addressed beyond sport, in turn reflecting the richness and diversity of Olympism.

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The Olympic Studies Centre

The IOC Olympic Studies Centre is the world source of reference for Olympic knowledge. Its mission is to share this knowledge with professionals and researchers by providing information, giving access to its unique archive and library collections, enabling research and promoting dialogue between the academic community and the Olympic Movement.

The Studies Centre collaborates with a network of academics and university-based Olympic Studies Centres around the globe and funds Olympic-related research via two grant programmes.

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IOC in Lausanne


More about IOC history

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