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Buddhist Art in Gruyères

HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM

This collection, assembled with care and respect by Alain Bordier, presents more than 350 works of Himalayan art from the 6th to 18th centuries. The sculptures, paintings and ritual objects come from Tibet, Nepal, Kashmir, Northern India and Burma. They represent deities and ritual objects used for meditation and are an expression of inner qualities such as devotion and knowledge of the very essence of the mind.

 

The immersion in the beauty of art takes place in the peaceful setting of a historic building with its former chapel. In Buddhism, seeing, hearing, memory and touch are the four sources of liberation; contemplating these objects, even for a moment, can initiate an inner transformation. The beauty of the various exhibits can certainly assist the inner development of visitors, going beyond cultures, affiliations and beliefs.

 

The Tibet Museum is located in the former pastoral building and chapel of St. Joseph.

The Tibetan Museum resides within the ancient chapel of Saint Joseph

HISTORY OF THE BUIDLING

The Tibet Museum has found its home in the pastoral building and Chapel dedicated to St. Joseph of the former Château Saint-Germain. From the end of the 19th century, it housed an institute for deaf children run by Catholic nuns. They wished to offer these children access to communication and, by extension, to the world and to society.

 

In 1920, when the nuns left Gruyères, the building and the chapel were bought by a private family. From then on the chapel served as a storage room and sometimes even as a playroom for the village children.

 

The religious symbolism of the chapel is significant. In addition to Christ, Mary and Joseph, a stained glass window shows Saint Pancras who is considered to be a healer and protector of the herds. On one of the walls of the chapel, a fresco depicts Saint Francis of Assisi. He spoke with the birds, just like his Tibetan contemporary Milarepa who also looked at his winged brothers and all living beings with love and compassion. On another painting, Christ heals a deaf young man by saying to him:

 

"Open up! (Ephphetha)"

 

By installing the Tibet Museum in this pastoral building and chapel, the Alain Bordier Foundation has chosen to perpetuate the vocation of this place. On the one hand, the foundation offers access to Himalayan Buddhist art and philosophy while at the same time making this historical chapel accessible to the public again.

 

The museum is a place of respectful openness that enables the encounter of two worlds that may seem so different and yet stem from the same humanity.