Photographic Archives

Collections temporary closure

Due to the temporary closure of the museum between October 2020 and June 2022 and the work required to move our Collections, requests for research, loans or reproductions of images for publication are suspended from May 2019 until the Spring of 2023.

We will be happy to respond to your requests in our futur museum at PLATEFORME 10 as of June 2023. We thank you very much for your understanding.

Acclaimed for managing complete photographic holdings, the Musée de l’Elysée conserves and showcases the works it has been entrusted with and often also manages copyrights. The prints, negatives, contact sheets and other types of document are carefully studied, catalogued, digitalized and restored to create rich and complete archives.

Jan Groover

Jan Groover (1943-2012) conducted a lifelong research on forms and their ability to transform the perception of the image. In the early 1970s, abandoning her earlier vocation as a painter, the American photographer began to attract attention with her photographic polyptychs constructed around the motifs of the road, cars and the urban environment. By 1978, Jan Groover had radically changed subject, turning to still lifes that were to form the main body of her work and thanks to which she remains to this day one of the eminent figures of the genre in contemporary history of the medium. Mostly created in her studio, her compositions use a variety of processes. In the 1980s, they actively contributed to the recognition of colour photography. She developed a keen interest in the technique of platinum and palladium.

Jan Groover’s personal archives entered the Musée de l'Elysée's collections in 2017. From then on, the museum's team has carried out extensive research from the perspective both of conservation as well as historical documentation.

Paris, 1953 © Sabine Weiss / Collections Musée de l'Elysée

Sabine Weiss

Sabine Weiss is one of the great names in European photography. Born Sabine Weber in 1924 in Saint-Gingolph, the Swiss-born photographer did her apprenticeship with Paul Boissonnas in Geneva, before moving to Paris in 1946 where she was the assistant of Willy Maywald for four years. She settled in the French capital with her husband, the American painter Hugh Weiss, where she worked for many years with the Rapho Agency.

On June 12, 2017, Sabine Weiss has entrusted her photographic work, the achievement of a lifetime, to the Musée de l’Elysée. The archives of the photographer, born in Switzerland in 1924, will integrate the Musée de l’Elysée’s collections as soon as it moves to PLATEFORME 10

Read more

The René Burri collection

René Burri (1933 - 2014) is one of the most talented photographers of his generation. Early on in his career in 1959, he joins Magnum Agency. In 1963, he takes his famous portrait of the Che and has photographed a large number of celebrities, including Giacometti, Le Corbusier, Tinguely or Picasso and Niemeyer... Vietnam War, Cuban crisis, China, Europe, America... René Burri is where history is in the making, demonstrating acuteness in documenting significant events of his century. With such powerful work and an international reputation, René Burri is one of the most widely recognized Swiss photographers today.


The Suzi Pilet Collection

Suzi Pilet is a Swiss photographer born in 1916, whose abundant body of work includes portraits, landscapes and details of nature and architecture, as well as more dreamlike images, sometimes bordering on surrealism.  This interest in the world of dreams and the imaginary can also be found in her writings. With close ties to the literary and musical scene of French-speaking Switzerland, she is also known for her books, Les Histoires d’Amadou, created with her partner, Alexis Peiry, as well as her portraits, particularly of children, which is how she earned her living.

The photographic archives of Suzi Pilet were entrusted to the Musée de l’Elysée in 2009 and are currently being catalogued.


The Marcel Imsand collection

Marcel Imsand (1929) is one of the Switzerland’s most prominent photographers. Author of a rich body of work spreading across a number of genres.Born in 1929, Imsand Marcel is a self-taught man of one sole passion, photography. By the 1960s, his talent and tenacity allowed him to make a life of this passion. He quickly became an important figure in the field, and early on in his career was nominated to manage the photography in a twelve volume Illustrated Encyclopedia of Vaud (1970-1987). During this time his work in the realm of documentary photography became very lively. He photographed Switzerland’s many festivals and carnivals, the areas outside Switzerland’s major cities, and the life and death of popular folk traditions (The Trades that are Disappearing). The activity of Marcel Imsand is not confined, as only a witness to popular arts and traditions; he was not afraid to confront other challenges such as the realities of the industry. The photographer also distinguishes himself with exceptional publications on the city of Lausanne and entertainment, such as events at the Great Theatre of Geneva. In addition to these documentary pursuits his works also demonstrate a great sensitivity through portraiture, as evidenced by his work with the celebrities Maurice Bejart and singer Barbara. Over his exceptional career, Marcel Imsand has brought to us over twenty books with diverse subject matter, many of which were written and produced in collaboration with a number of esteemed authors.

On February 13th, 2012, the Marcel Imsand Collection was given to the Musée de l'Elysée. With support from the Canton of Vaud, the city of Lausanne, La Loterie Romande, and the Swiss Confederation through Memoriav, a program to restore Marcel Imsand’s images is being implemented.

Tribute to Marcel Imsand, a movie presented at the Nuit des images 2012


The Jean Mohr Collection

Internationally renowned photographer Jean Mohr (born September 13, 1925) has been working for international organizations since the fifties. By covering events throughout the world he has produced valuable testimonies: publications for Swiss and international press as well as book illustrations. He is himself the author of numerous photography books.

Jean Mohr is also known for his collaboration with author and critic John Berger, with whom he has signed several publications (Le septième homme: Migrant Workers in Europe; Un métier idéal: The Story of a Country Doctor). Mohr’s interest for the Swiss theatre has, among others, broadened his photographical approach. His body of work also includes plasticine photography, usually in colour, as a reflection of formal experimentations in the art field.

In 2009, the Fondation Hans Wilsdorf donated to the Musée de l’Elysée Jean Mohr’s photographic collection, consisting of original prints, slides and negatives.

War from the Victims's Perspective, Photographs by Jean Mohr | Video portrait of Jean Mohr

The Nicolas Bouvier collection

Writer, poet, photographer and passionate photo researcher, Nicolas Bouvier made his first trip alone to Lapland, at the age of 17. Between 1953 and 1955, he travelled from Yugoslavia to India with his friend Thierry Vernet and the photos of this trip were published in L'Usage du Monde, in 1963, which became a cult book for the new generation of travel writers. Captivated by Japan, he lived there on two occasions in 1956 and between 1964 and 1966. His writing style and his photographs were closely linked and for him photography was ‘another way of writing’. He would later become a ‘seeker of images’, which allowed him to build a very important, high quality iconographic collection.

About 871 original prints and 14,000 negatives were given to the Musée de l'Elysée. 

The De Jongh collection

A family of photographers living in Switzerland since 1793. Francis (1833-1912) settled in Vevey in 1865. His three sons (Edouard, Francis and Auguste), known as the de Jongh brothers, worked notably at the Russian court. Edouard’s son, Francis (1864-1928), studied photography with Paul Nadar in Paris and was interested in photographic techniques such as gum bichromate and greasy ink methods, in a Pictorialist style. His son, Gaston (1888-1973) had a workshop in Rue du Théâtre in Lausanne. He also developed artistic techniques (bromides, greasy inks) and scientific procedures (medical and infrared photography). He specialized in architecture, fashion, advertising and portraits.

The de Jongh collection contains hundreds of thousands of negatives.

The Hans Steiner collection

Hans Steiner, a photographer and reporter, directed his penetrating lens at the daily life of Switzerland and its inhabitants between 1930 and 1960. The quality and diversity of his work make him a major figure of 20th century Swiss photography. The collection owned by the Musée de l'Elysée features thousands of original prints (under the process of inventory), thousands of contact sheets (under the process of inventory), hundreds of slides (under the process of inventory) and 106,000 negatives; in a word, a major collection of photographic media donated by the photographer’s family and his estate.

The Ella Maillart Collection

Ella Maillart was one of the most amazing travellers of the 20th century. An explorer driven by her quest for truth, a photographer out of passion, a writer and journalist by necessity, Ella Maillart (1903-1997) was famous for her many sporting achievements, her travels and books. As early as the 1930s, she had travelled to the most remote areas of the world in conditions of pure adventure.

Topics: Travel photography, Central Asia, India, Nepal
The Ella Maillart collection includes approximately 11,137 prints and 20,000 negatives. 

Ella Maillart official website

The Gertrud Fehr collection

Gertrude Fehr studied photography in Munich in the 1920s. She opened a studio specializing in portrait and theatre photography, then with her husband, the painter Jules Fehr, she founded the Publiphot School in Paris. It moved to Lausanne in 1940 and is now known as the Ecole Photographique de la Suisse Romande, which went on to be affiliated to the Ecole des Arts et Métiers in Vevey. She regularly worked with art magazines, comic books and journals that specialized in photography.

The museum features over 257 prints of hers and thousands of negatives.

The Charlie Chaplin photographic archive

Composed of vintage prints and negatives, these archives document the whole career of Charlie Chaplin. To these documents, which were collected film by film since the late 1910s, are added more personal pictures. The exhibition Chaplin et les images shown at the Musée de l'Elysée in 2006, gave an overview of the importance of the Chaplin Photographic Archive by presenting around 350 of its photographs.

More information

The Rudolf Lehnert & Ernst Landrock collection

After photography school in Vienna, Rudolf Lehnert travelled and discovered Tunisia for the first time in 1903. Upon his return, he met Ernst Landrock in Switzerland, with whom he created the publishers Lehnert & Landrock of which Ernst Landrock was the manager. They settled in Tunis between 1904 and 1914, when their studio was closed due to the war. Rudolf Lehnert then worked (from 1924 to 1930) in Egypt, photographing among other things objects from the tomb of Tutankhamen. He returned to Tunis in 1930 and continued his portrait work, after breaking away from his partner. In 1939, he retired and remained in Tunisia until the end of his life (1948).

Topics: Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Palestine. Landscape and portrait.
691 original prints and 600 glass plates are part of the collection.

Iconographic collection of the canton of Vaud

Founded by the pastor Paul Vionnet (1830-1914), this collection devoted to the history of the canton of Vaud is at the very foundation of the Musée de l’Elysée in 1985. The collection consists of a wide variety of objects : engravings, drawings and all types of publications. But the photograph is at its very core with hundreds of thousands of phototypes (negatives, prints, albums, contact sheets) covering the history of local photography since the daguerreotype in the 1840s to the photographic production of the 1980s. 

As of the 1960s, photography had become a source of collection and was progressively making its way into art museums. A large number of local photography collections were added to the iconographic collection, including the works of André Schmid and Gaston de Jongh.

Exhibition The memory of images (2015)
Official website Iconographic collection of the canton of Vaud

Viewing and images requests

Due to the work required to move our Collections, all requests for research, loans or reproductions of images for publication are suspended until the Spring of 2023. We thank you very much for your understanding.

To read more about the Collections and the new museum at PLATEFORME 10.