Mary-Claude Busset


Mary-Claude Busset, curator of the Museum des Ormonts in Vers-l’Église

I chose to study history and the history of art, as they’re the subjects which have interested me since I was very small. My interest started with architecture and «old stones». I remember, near Villarzel, the village of my grandmother Violette, that there was a medieval tower which I used to dream about. I always wanted to go inside but of course it was locked. Then there was a chapel on a little hill at La Sage, the Abbey of Montheron and of course the cathedral in Lausanne that I used to walk past between lessons at the Gymnase de la Cité, the City High School. All these places contributed to my desire to travel back in time.

History is so much a question one’s teacher : I was lucky to have someone good. During my baccalaureate years I made the link between history and current affairs. It was the period of Lech Walesa and Solidarity, the civil war in Ireland, and or course the Iron Curtain. With hindsight, I realise that I have lived through some major historical changes : that’s «living history».

For me, history is to move between a visit to Pompeii and, say, the construction of an old irrigation channel in the canton of Valais. It’s all about being interested in people, their lives, their thoughts and the historical objects they have left behind. It’s also about trying to understand how human beings could, at the same time, be geniuses in art and science and be capable of the worst atrocities.

I like history but I have no nostalgia for the past : just a little fantasy about being able to go back in time, remaining invisible for a few hours !

Naturally, my various current activities follow from this great interest. There is historical research, which resembles a detective’s job : to link together documents, photographs and objects in order to reconstruct events or periods of history. Then these discoveries are shared with the public, through publications, lectures or guided tours. A museum is an excellent place to find out about the history of one’s local area or holiday destination. The challenge is then to make this place welcoming and attractive : that’s the challenge I’ve taken up for almost the last three years, happily surrounded and supported by people full of talent and ideas.

In this case one doesn’t use the word «work», but «fascinating activitiy».

Translation : Gordon Douglas