Regional museums of the Neuchâtel region

The canton of Neuchâtel has more than 30 museums. But many of them are managed by associations. Here are a few examples.

Musée d’histoire du Landeron
Fondation de l’Hôtel de Ville du Landeron
At a time when there is a deplorable accumulation of objects of historical value in the Town Hall, the creation of a small local museum is evoked at the beginning of the 20th century. A renovation dating from 1907 will benefit the use of the premises. However, the public still does not have access to the collections. The rooms in the building are mainly used to receive guests from the commune, to organise ceremonies, and even, for a short period, to accommodate a few classes of pupils while the primary school is being renovated.
A second renovation took place in 1980. It was followed by the setting up of a structure with the mission of creating a museum, managing and enriching the collections and receiving the public through regular openings. The Fondation de l’Hôtel de Ville (FHVL), made up of volunteer members, was therefore created by the joint will of the Town Council, the Old Town Association and the Development Company. The museum now thrives thanks to the dedication of several local personalities with a passion for history and the generous donations that complement the collections.
The museum houses historical collections, some of major interest. Temporary exhibitions are regularly organised. These allow visitors to discover local artists and to explore themes related to local history. Various activities now attract a large public.

April – November
Saturday – Sunday
2.30pm – 5.30pm
Free admission, contribution appreciated (except for guided tours)

Open about 65 days a year / 22 guides, guards
2018: 1’650 visitors
2019: 1’570 visitors

Activity report 2018
Activity report 2019

© Elleka_Wikimedia

Musée d’art et d’histoire de la Neuveville
The aim of the Museum of Art and History of La Neuveville (MAHLN) is to conserve and complete the collections relating to the history of La Neuveville and its region (the former district of La Neuveville, the former Bishopric of Basel and the Canton of Bern). The main themes concern economic, political and social life: in particular in relation to public and private buildings, shops, events, sports and leisure, means of transport and communication, and daily life.
Over the years, the museum has been enriched by numerous donations and a few purchases to build up an important collection including handwritten and printed historical documents, medals and old coins, weapons, paintings and engravings, books, clothes, photographs and postcards.

April – October
Saturdays – Sundays
2.30 pm – 5.30 pm
Free admission, contribution appreciated (except for guided tours)

6 guides, guards
2015: 657 visitors
2016: 870 visitors
2017: 656 visitors
2019: 900 visitors

Activity report 2017

Photos: Musée d’art et d’histoire de la Neuveville

Maison Blanche (Le Corbusier), La Chaux-de-Fonds
The Maison blanche is a witness to the pioneering architecture of the 20th century and the development of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier); his characteristic neoclassic style breaks with the regional Art Nouveau and is based on his experience in Paris as a student of Auguste Perret and in Berlin with Peter Behrens: “It attempts to show L’Eplattenier a different type of architecture. Earlier houses present a picturesque exterior image. The villa Jeanneret-Perret departs from that image to turn from the inside to the exterior.” (Jacques Gubler, Professor, Department of Architecture, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne), revue Architecture, 15.11.1987).

From 1 Jan. 2021 to 30 June 2021
Friday – Sunday
10:00 – 17:00
From 1 Jul. 2021 to 30 Sept. 2021
Monday / Friday – Sunday
10:00 – 17:00

Adult: CHF 10.00
AHV, Student : CHF 7.00
Family: CHF 25.00
Child (up to 16 years): Free of charge

Approximately 4’000 visitors per year / 40 guides, guards
Annual support of the Loterie Romande

Sponsors / donators

© SNP, Arc’Info

Musée Rousseau, Môtiers
Centred on Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s stay in exile, the exhibition evokes, through prints and objects, the Val-de-Travers that he then discovered and the “tourist” influence that he exercised against his will. The prints of the Tableaux… de la Suisse bear witness to the resonance of his presence and his hundred or so visitors. The exhibition reveals the home that Madame Boy de la Tour offered him in an asylum, the portrait that he threw out to his public and the Neuchâtel inhabitants, friends or enemies he met. It also recalls his writings, now mainly self-defensive, his reawakened passion for botany and his short stay in the paradise on the island of Saint-Pierre, not forgetting his post-mortem destiny and the topicality of his questions.
The tour includes eight stations, the titles of which are based on Rousseau’s expressions: 1. the little corner I live in; 2. the asylum offered by friendship; 3. the Armenian habit; 4. the Armenian habit; 5. the Armenian habit; 6. the Armenian habit; and 7. the Armenian habit. The Neuchâtelois; 5. Having left literature altogether; 6. More than hay in my head; 7. In this beloved island; 9. Heaven in its turn will do its work.
In addition to various portraits, a pastel attributed to La Tour, an oil painting by Robert Gardelle, the shoelace given to Isabelle d’Ivernois, a pewter plate offered as a shooting prize, Rousseau’s penultimate and unpublished autograph receipt for the Dictionary of Music are on display…

May – October
Saturday – Sunday
3pm – 5pm

Adults: CHF 7.00
Children: CHF 5.00

2 guides, guards
2018: 226 visitors
2019: 347 visitors

Activity reports

Photo: Musée Rousseau

Musée de l’Areuse, Boudry
The museum, founded in 1872, allows the public to discover the birds and mammals of the region. A collection of local prehistoric objects from the stations of Cortaillod and Auvernier, as well as regional history and folklore documents can be admired. The Musée de l’Areuse also possesses exceptional collections of ethnographic objects from Gabon, Indians, a medallion and weapons. A library completes the ensemble.
The room on the first floor has hardly changed since the end of the 19th century and is a witness to the museography of the period when the first museums were created in Switzerland.
An exceptional treasure, the Musée de l’Areuse has been recognised as a cantonal heritage asset since 2 April 1997.

April – November
Tuesday – Sunday
2.15pm – 5.45pm

Adults: CHF 3.00
Children: CHF 2.00

Sponsors / donators

Musée du tram, Areuse
12 years is the time it took a small association to realize a huge project. From the approval by its general assembly in November 2002 of a loan needed to draw up a preliminary project to the acquisition of the land in 2005, from obtaining the building permit in 2007 to the construction of the building at the end of 2010, the Tram Museum has cost its protagonists sweat, anxiety, but also immense satisfaction.
Within ANAT, these last twelve years have allowed the oldest, often founding members of the association, to see a dream come true. For the museum project was already included in the objectives of the pioneers in 1976. To the younger ones, it meant the possibility to know up close the reality of what the old trams of the time of the apogee of the urban railway network of the city were like.
The efforts made by the members, who spent entire Saturdays restoring motor 45, the former emblem of the Neuchâtel-Boudry line 5, the preparation of exhibitions retracing the history of public transport in Brittany, and the collection and cataloguing of unpublished archives from private individuals, all enabled the members to recreate a strong sense of familiarity with this mode of transport and its past.

Sundays April 25, May 30, June 20, August 15, September 5, October 3, 2021
Open from 14pm to 17pm.
Free entrance

Photo: musée du tram

Musée régional de La Sagne, La Sagne
The Museum of La Sagne, founded in the 1880s, is a “cabinet of curiosities”, as it was called in the 19th century. It has kept the cachet of yesteryear, it has remained in its premises, with their old showcases: this is what makes its originality. A museum of archaeology, ethnography, history, fine arts, clocks and watches, and natural history, its eclectic collections present thousands of diverse objects, from household objects from the good old days to a collection of birds, from paintings of the kings of Prussia to the clock in the temple of La Sagne, not forgetting a mechanical piano that enchants young and old alike.

The Museum is open on the 1st Sunday of each month.
from 2pm to 5pm or on request.
Free entrance

Image: Musée régional de la Sagne

Moulins souterrains du Col-des-Roches, Le Locle
In 1973, a group of history and speleology enthusiasts undertook the cleaning of the cave and the partial restoration of the mills. After fifteen years of courageous and voluntary work, the Confrérie des Meuniers du Col-des-Roches was able to return the Col-des-Roches underground mills to the public. The site immediately arouses public interest. In 2001, a permanent exhibition telling the history of the mills and the region is inaugurated. The local branch of Neuchâtel Tourism moved to the site in 2004. In 2007, a hydraulic circuit was installed in the cave, allowing the installations to be put back into operation. The rehabilitation of the courtyard, as well as the upgrading of the old sawmill, is completed in 2018. Temporary exhibitions and other events are regularly organised.

From November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021
Tuesday – Sunday
14:00 – 17:00
From May 1, 2021 to Oct. 31, 2021
Monday – Sunday
10:00 – 17:00

Adult: CHF 14.00
AHV, Student : CHF 11.50
Child (between 6 and 16 years old): CHF 7.00
Family : CHF 30.00

Photo: Moulins souterrains du Col-des-Roches

Mines d’asphalte, Travers
Yesterday. In 1711, the first modern scientist specialising in asphalt, the Greek physician Eirini d’Eyrinys, identified the first deposits on the northern anticline of the Val-de-Travers. Initially interested in the therapeutic effects of this material, he laid the foundations for its modern uses in his “Dissertation on Asphalt or Natural Cement”.
The first mine was open-pit and it seems well established that, until 1812, mining only took place on the Combe-Vaubayon deposit. The available documents do not agree on the exact date (around 1830) when mining of the La Presta deposit on the southern slope of the valley began.
After passing through various hands, in 1873 the mine became the property of an English company, the “Neuchâtel Asphalte Company Ltd. It should be noted that, like salt, asphalt is subject to a state royalty and that the state levied a charge of around CHF 5 per tonne in 1873 (approx. CHF 15 per tonne in 1986).
Around 1960, NACO Ltd. is absorbed by one of the most powerful road construction groups in Europe, the English company Tarmac.
The La Presta asphalt mines were operated first as a cottage industry and then as an industrial operation from 1712 to 1986, before being opened to the public.

From 2 November to 31 March
Guided tours every day at 14.00 pm:
Monday to Friday by reservation until 11.00 am on the day of the visit.
Saturday to Sunday without reservation
From 1st April to 1st November
Guided tours every day at 10.30 am and 14.00 pm.
Additional visits in July and August: every day at 12.00, 16.00 and 17.30 pm.

Adult: CHF 16.00
Student: CHF 12.50
Child (up to 16 years old): CHF 10.00
Family (2 adults + 2-3 children): CHF 42.50

Approximately 22’000 visitors per year

Photo: Mines d’asphalte

Maison de l’Absinthe, Môtiers
In Môtiers, in the heart of the Val-de-Travers, a centre dedicated to the green fairy recounts its intoxicating history – from the plant to the drink, including the identity of the region – through an exhibition, a bar and a shop.
The Green Fairy has so much to tell that she needed an interpretation centre. It’s done in Môtiers, a charming village in the Val-de-Travers and historic cradle of the sulphurous beverage. Inaugurated in July 2014 within the walls of the former court, the same court that ten years earlier still chaperoned the prohibition of spirits, the Maison de l’Absinthe houses a remarkable exhibition dedicated to the nectar that is the pride of the Neuchâtel Jura. Thanks to a contemporary and interactive museography, the exhilarating history of this drink can be seen through the prism of art, science and physics. From the first uses of the plant in the pharmacopoeia during Antiquity to the invention of the drink, from the secrets of its manufacture to its repercussions on the local economy, from its clandestine production to its many variations on a global scale, the journey turns more than one head. As part of the ritual of the green hour, a designer bar awaits visitors for a tasting of the potion that is becoming cloudy… which reveals subtle aromatic notes to the participants of the culinary workshops on offer, “forbidden dessert” and “absinthe-scented menu”. The Maison de l’Absinthe also houses a shop whose stalls are overflowing with bottles, sweets, souvenirs and unusual objects that display the virtues of absinthe ad infinitum.

Tuesday – Saturday
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 17:00

Adult: CHF 12
AHV, Student : CHF 10.00
Children (between 6 and 18 years old): CHF 6.00
Family : CHF 22.00

Sponsors / donators

Business Plan “Musée de l’Absinthe”, Môtiers (NE) (PDF in French)
Project manager / scenography: Thematis SA

Photo: Maison de l’Absinthe

Musée régional du Val-de-Travers, Môtiers
On both sites, the historical richness of the Val-de-Travers is expressed through activities typical of the regional identity: watchmaking in Môtiers and absinthe production in Boveresse.
At the Musée des Mascarons, housed in a patrician mansion rebuilt in the mid-18th century, discover no less than three centuries of watchmaking history in the Val-de-Travers. A sober and contemporary museography retraces the major stages of a remarkable adventure: the conversion of farmers to watchmaking from 1730 onwards, the international expansion of products from the Jura valley, the increasing mechanisation of the industry, etc. At Boveresse, an authentic absinthe dryer, one of the last in the Val-de-Travers, welcomes curious and green fairy lovers to an educational tour, objects related to the culture and plants used to make the famous beverage, and a garden. An exhilarating visit, to be combined with that of the Maison de l’absinthe.

April – December
Saturday – Sunday
2pm – 5pm

Adult: CHF 8.00
AHV, Student: CHF 5.00
Free admission for accompanied children up to 16 years of age

Photo: Musée régional du Val-de-Travers

Musée paysan et artisanal, La Chaux-de-Fonds
Housed in a 17th century Neuchâtel farmhouse, the Musée paysan et artisanal invites you to go back in time in the footsteps of the farmers of yesteryear.
As soon as you enter this beautiful building, you find yourself plunged more than a century ago into the typical world of the watchmakers who forged the identity of the canton of Neuchâtel. Dominated by wood and stone, the building is home to the reconstitution of the home of these men and women of the earth, with its massive beams and rustic furniture. In the kitchen, a huge fireplace houses the cauldrons in which the meal was cooked. Further on, on the workbench, the half-dismantled clocks seem to be waiting to be repaired, amidst carefully aligned tools. Everywhere floats a light woody scent, giving the impression that the occupants of the premises could return at any moment. This feeling is further reinforced by the many temporary exhibitions and events organized by the museum.

April – December
Wednesday – Sunday
2pm – 5pm

Adult: CHF 8.00
AHV, IV, unemployed: CHF 6.00
Student (over 16 years old): CHF 3.00
Child (up to 16 years): free of charge

Photo: Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds