Photography and Geekery around Lake Geneva – Part 2: The H.R. Giger museum

Whilst the first installment of my travel blog from my trip to Switzerland was mostly about photography in Lausanne, the second installment will focus on my other passion: the “Phantastic” in literature and art. Read about my visit to the H.R. Giger museum in Gruyère after the jump.

I have been a fan of Science Fiction, Fantasy and related genres ever since being a small kid and whilst many, many things have changed since then this hasn’t. The area around Lake Geneva has quite a few interesting places to visit if you’re a geek like me.

Switzerland is not particularly known for it’s SF and fantasy artists but one sticks out like a giant: Hans Rudi Giger, probably best known for his work on the Alien movies. The artist who has recently passed away, acquired a medieval chateau in Gruyère, a town until then best known for its famous cheese. In this chateau and the surrounding buildings Giger installed a museum not only for his own art but also for his collection of surreal and phantastic art by other artists. Having worked as an interior designer before becoming full-time artist Giger also opened a few bars featuring his trademark design of skulls and bones from furniture to wall and ceiling decorations. The Giger bar in Gruyère was the latest addition and is still open (as opposed to the ones in New York and Tokyo).

HR Giger sculpture

Outside the HR Giger museum

I must admit that I went to museum to “tick it off the list”. Pretty much everyone who’s into the genre and/or in the Gothic scene is into Giger. For a while his art seemed to be everywhere and quite frankly I got a bit bored of it. If you feel the same I can highly recommend visiting the museum, because you might, as I did, get a renewed appreciation for the creator of Alien. Firstly, I got to see many pieces that were new to me. Secondly, and more importantly for me, I finally got to see his works that have been reproduced so many times in the original format and quite frankly they blew me away. I wasn’t aware that they were so BIG! Seeing them true to life and being able to really make out all the intricate details makes a huge difference compared to just seeing small-scale reproductions. And the Aliens! Original models, props, and design sketches from both the Alien franchise as well as the Species movie are on display and reminded me once more how inventive Giger was. His Aliens are absolutely stunning in representing something truly, well, alien and terrifying, and have set the bar very high for sci-fi movie prop design. The museum which is a holistic work of art in itself is well worth a visit!

When you’re there, don’t forget to have a look at the neighbouring medieval chateau. It features some fantastic sculptural art on the outside and some of Giger’s collection of paintings on the inside, and that’s not taking into account the historic value of the building as well as the mummified hand that’s on display! 🙂

Finish your visit with a coffee under a vault of bones in the Giger bar, and have a stroll around the uber-picturesque medieval town of Gruyère. It is full of tourists, but when you’re there you will most likely be a tourist yourself so it’s fine to behave like one: get yourself some of that awesome cheese they make there!

You can find some pictures of the outside area of the museum and chateau on my Lomography profile: H.R. Giger Museum

View from chateau showing Swiss landscape and Swiss flag flying from turrret.

View from the Gruyère chateau


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