The Museum

A historical house

Situated in the medieval town of Morges and founded in 1286 by the House of Savoy, the present day building can be found at la Grand-Rue 54. Behind its walls, constructed at the beginning of the second half of the 16th century, lies the Alexis Forel museum.

It is the most remarkable illustration of late gothic style architecture in Morges. The magnificent “Renaissance” Hall boasts a superb and authentic cell ceiling from the 16th century, a veritable monument within a monument, which you can admire during your visit. In the courtyard “Italian style” galleries dating from 1670 join together the two wings of the building, evoking a certain stageworthiness and extolling the pleasure of life.

Having known several owners, both bourgeois and aristocrats, the house became the headquarters for the Morges Dairy Society in 1825. This change in affectation most certainly resulted in a degradation of the property.

A variety of collections

In 1918 the etcher and collector Alexis Forel (1852-1922) and his wife Emmeline (1860-1957), a painter, bought the property to house their collections – including a prestigious set of etchings by the most renowned names in Europe from the 16th through to the 19th century – as well as those of the Vieux Morge Society, created in 1915.

The museum

This society, composed of personalities from Morges, fixed for themselves the goal of preserving the heritage.

As a result, today – thanks in large to donations – furniture, tapestries, glassworks and pottery, testimony, for the most part, to the European artistic heritage of the 16th to the 19th centuries, can be found side by side.

The creation of the museum is one of the most important examples of people’s interest in the preservation of their heritage, a trend which began in Europe during the 19th century.

Right from the opening of the museum in 1920, the collections were presented inside a lived-in residence. With of course certain modifications, the spirit of this museography is still present today, allowing visitors a privileged position, at the heart of an intimate location.

René Morax

On top of the collections of decorative art can also be found the impressive donation of dolls and toys by local man of the theatre, René Morax (1873 – 1963), which are on display in the gables, specially fitted out to show off their true worth.

Over the years, the museum benefited from numerous private donations in all domains.

Alexis Forel

Alexis Forel was born in Lully near Morges (Vaud) in Switzerland in 1852. He followed classical studies in Lausanne and was then in Paris and in Germany to complete a formation of engineer-chemist. He worked in this field for three years but his interest for art soon brought him back to Paris where he studied the basics of drawing and engraving. With his wife Emmeline Forel, who was also an artist, he travelled to Paris and noticeably Bretagne where he produced many engraved works (1885). His health problems preventing him from drawing as much as he would have liked to, he involved most of his time collecting engravings and works of art, studying archaeology and roman art, as well as writing (Journey in the land of roman sculptors).

In 1918, Alexis Forel purchased the former Dairy of Morges (House Blanchenay) and had it restored. He offered it to the Society of the Old Morges in order to store there both their collection and his.

Alexis forel died in 1922 in Morges. The Museum of the old Morges, which he contributed to create, was renamed after him in 1943.

Family tree (pdf file)