Musée de la Nature in Sion, Switzerland, Wins National Prize for Anthropocene Exhibition

14 December, 2016 – Switzerland. ICOM NATHIST member Musée de la Nature in Sion, Valais (Valais Nature Museum) Switzerland and its Director, Dr. Nicolas Kramar  received the prestigious Prix Expo 2016, awarded by the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) for the exhibition “Objectif Terre: Vivre l’Anthropocène” (Objective Earth”: Living in the Anthropocene) The jury praised the courage of the Museum of Nature to approach the Anthropocene with brilliance, with the aim of making it accessible to a large, non-specialist audience, as well as Marie Velardi’s remarkable scenography, which was extended to the Penitentiary until 2 April 2017.


exhibition-signageThe Anthropocene: a new era

Humanity is crossing a new geological era: the Anthropocene. For the first time, man has become, for a very short time, a few hundred years, a force capable of radically transforming the natural environment. The contemporary environmental problems that result from it go far beyond the sole theme of climate. To break the impasse, the issue is not just scientific and technological. It is primarily cultural and anthropological. The Anthropocene presents itself as a tremendous opportunity to rethink our relationship with nature to forge links with it and become a full-fledged landowner.

What is our place on Earth?

Interpret the public, offer reliable and reasoned information, enrich it with new and stimulating reflections on topical themes, nicolas-accpeting-the-awardencourage it to participate in the construction of our common future: these are some of the ambitions of this exhibition. The course takes place on the three floors of the Penitentiary, each answering a specific question about the Anthropocene: Why are we talking about Anthropocene? What is the origin of our present situation? How to live in the time of the Anthropocene? In the final section, the public is invited to participate and propose new and creative solutions that will complement the exhibition to rethink its place and its relationship with the land. For a new and stronger consciousness about the relationship and protection of our environment is necessary, to rethink the living environment of man and animal. Thus, the demand for action is more cultural, political and social than technical. In the present era of the Anthropocene, man must again turn first to the earth. In short: Objective Earth!



Partial view of the exhibition. Photo: M. Martinez  courtesy of Valais Nature Museum

Museography by Marie Velardi

Multiple lines run through the walls and floors of the exhibition space, from the stairwell to the top floor of the Old Penitentiary of Sion, through the exhibition halls. These lines disturb the grids present in the architecture, and offer a dynamic route to the visitors of the exhibition. Initially untied, they intersect and participate in the content of the rooms, to speak in their own way of the subject. For example, in the room on modernity, two perspective grids give an impression of vertigo and loss of spatial references, as a way of experiencing a mathematized space and a distance from modernity. In the “conquer” room, a line becomes the access road to the summit of a mountain painted on the wall, to approach the conquest of the Alps, and in the room “Fence” the lines become fence. On the 3rd floor, while some lines run in a straight line against the walls, as if they were continuing the modern “project” until its disintegration, other lines connect and form a weaving, creating links. It is a space of possibilities, which is developing in a modular way, and will continue to be built throughout the exhibition, according to the proposals of resources coming from the public.

The 2016 Expo Award rewards the courage of the Museum


Nicolas Kramar celebrates with two of his sons, Romain and Thomas, accompanied by Dr Jürg Pfister, Secretary General of SCNAT and Esther Waeber-Kalbermatten, minister of culture of the State of Valais. Photo courtesy of Valais Nature Museum

The Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) is an association of 35,000 experts who are committed at regional, national and international level to the future of science and society. Each year, by awarding the Expo Prize, it distinguishes exhibitions and related events that spark a passion for nature and the natural sciences to a wide audience in a lively and scientifically based way. By awarding the 2016 Expo Prize, the jury welcomes the Museum’s handling of the Anthropocene, a difficult and topical subject. It also highlights the multidisciplinary approach and the remarkable scenography on which the exhibition is based. Exposure is extended to the Penitentiary until April 2, 2017.

See the museum’s website (in French) at this link.