Musée d'ethnographie, Genève

Boulevard Carl-Vogt 65-67
CH - 1205 Genève
Tél. +41 (0)22 418 45 50

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What is "ethnography"?

"Ethnography (from Greek ἔθνος ethnos "folk, people, nation" and γράφω grapho "I write") is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study. An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing the culture of a group..." Read more at Wikipedia

Read about the MEG African collection at

Audio guides for the collection are at in English

In the museum, all the description and information tags are in French and in English.

Translation below of the description of the Africa collection (in French) on

"All of the 17,000 pieces that make up the collection have ordered around the Geneva collections of the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Missions, which ceased to exist at the turn of the twentieth century.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Protestant missionaries such H. A. Junod, F. Coillard, J. Vernet or E. Casalis, and explorers like the famous Captain A. Bertrand undertook a veritable ethnography of the Zambezi and Southern Africa through monographs. It is because of the contribution of their work that the MEG collection today has real "material panoramas" of the Thonga, Basotho, Lozi (Ba Rotsi) cultures, among others.

In the 1930s, other Ethnography savvy missionaries further increased the African collections through their research: Fernand Grébert in the Fang countries or Henry Rusillon in Madagascar. The 200 pieces given to the Museum by Rusillon were recently added to by the trust of the ethnologist Jacques Faublée, made up of 7213 photographs taken in Madagascar from 1938 to 1941.

The considerable assets given to the Museum by other famous anthropologists like Hans Himmelheber (Ivory Coast, Liberia, DRC) or Conradin Perner (Sudan) have contributed to the enrichment of the collection. Also the painter Emile Chambon, whose large donation in 1981, perpetuates his passion for "Black Arts".

Finally, remember that the North African collections owe much to the passion for Tunisia and Morocco of Eugene Pittard, the first director of this institution, and then the commitment to the Tuareg people of his successor, Marguerite Lobsiger-Dellenbach,"

To find out more about the people mentioned above, visit these web pages:
Henri Alexandre Junod (1863-1934)
external image junod_ha.jpg
The Life of a South African Tripe (Tsonga). 1912. Read on line or download the book at
Encyclopedia Britannica entry
University of South Africa Library

François Coillard (1824-1904)
external image coillard.jpg
Wikipedia entry
Dictionary of African Christian Biography
Francis Coillard, by James Thayer. Hartford, Conn. : The National Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church by Church Missions Pub. Co. 1929.
Read online or download at

Eugène Casalis (1812-1891)
Eugène_Casalis.jpgFrom Béarn to Southern Africa or The Amazing Destiny of Eugène Casalis. By Marie-Claude Mosimann-Barbier. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2 Jun 2014
Read selections online on Google Books
Les Bassoutos ou Vingt-trois années de séjour et d'observations au sud de l'Afrique ([Reprod.]) / par E. Casalis, Casalis, Eugène . C. Meyrueis (Paris) 1859.
Read online or download at
English translation My Life in Basuto Land Read online or download at

Church history timeline entry at

Alfred Bertrand
The kingdom of the Barotsi Upper Zambezia a voyage of exploration in Africa returning by the Victoria Falls Matabeleland the Transvaal Natal and the Cape Bertrand Alfred 1856 Free Download Streaming Internet Archive.jpegAlfred Bertrand : explorer and captain of cavalry / comp. by his wife.. London : Religious Tract Society, 1926 For sale on Amazon
The kingdom of the Barotsi, Upper Zambezia: a voyage of exploration in Africa, returning by the Victoria Falls, Matabeleland, the Transvaal, Natal, and the Cape by Bertrand, Alfred, Cape Town, Johannesburg [etc.] : J.C. Juta. 1899. Read online or download at

external image 11170095644_5248f1ca2a_m.jpgThis dish is Ob 49/32 in MEG. Photo is in the British Library collection on Flickr.Image taken from page 165 of 'The Kingdom of the Barotsi, Upper Zambezia ... Translated by A. B. Miall, etc' BERTRAND, Alfred and MIALL, Arthur Bernard. T. Fisher Unwin, London. 1899. Shelfmark: "British Library HMNTS 010095.f.13."Page: 165.
Find this item in the British Library catalogue, 'Explore'.
Open the page in the British Library's itemViewer (page image 165)
Download the PDF for this book
Image found on book scan 165 (NB not a pagenumber)Download the OCR-derived text for this volume:(plain text) or (json)
Click here to see all the illustrations in this book and click here to browse other illustrations published in books in the same year.

"Un genevois autour du monde Alfred Bertrand" Totem, no. 46. Ville de Gèneve. 2007.

Fernand Grébert (1886-1956)external image arton363-243f2.jpgBiographie publication Le Gabon de Fernand Grébert 1913-1932

Henry Rusillon (1872-1938)
Maison missionnaire de Majunga (Madagascar). Henry Rusillon (1872-1938), Photographe. c. 1928
"Un culte dynastique avec évocation des morts chez les Sakalaves de Madagascar ", Henry Rousillon. Printed in Paris, 1912. Reproduced in Le « Tromba » No. 44 Bibliotèque Malgache. 1912.

Jacques Faublée (1912-2003)
Exposition. A Madagascar: Photographies de Jacques Faublée, 1938-1941. 30 avril au 26 Septembre 2010. MEG

Hans Himmelheber (1908 - 2003)
external image portrait_50048c6a90ac9.jpgShort Portrait: Hans und Ulrike Himmelheber

Conradin Perner
external image conrad-perner-suedsudan-original.jpgWikipedia
Profile from Winona State University Lectures Series

Video on

03 Conradin 'Kwacakworo' Perner - The value of cultural diversity from Peace Talks on Vimeo.

Emile Chambon (1905-1993)
pp 22-23

Eugène Pittard (1867–1962)
Video from the archives of RTS Documentaires, 30.01.1959, 20h00

Dans ce reportage de la série Documentaires, la journaliste Lyne Anska s'entretient avec le fondateur du Musée d'ethnographie de Genève, Eugène Pittard, alors agé de 90 ans et Marguerite Lobsiger-Dellenbach, directrice du musée.

Marguerite Lobsiger-Dellenbach (1905-1993)
photo from 1935

Bambous kanak
Bambous kanak, de Genève à Nouméa, Musée de Nouvelle-Calédonie, Nouméa. 2010.