Who hasn’t heard of Charlie Chaplin? It’s a rhetorical question as the emblematic entertainer is famous worldwide. The star and producer of silent films City Lights and Modern Times, he transitioned successfully to talking films with The Great Dictator. Up to now there hasn’t been a museum dedicated specifically to him but all that is about to change with the opening of an exciting new space. I was lucky to get an exclusive first look at Chaplin’s World Vevey, ahead of the official launch on 17 April.
Vevey is one of Switzerland’s most picturesque towns and I can see why Chaplin chose to live here. With his fourth wife Oona and their 8 children, by all accounts they had a wonderful family life here. However, circumstances were not always so auspicious for Charlie. He was born in London in 1889 and had to fend for himself from a young age due to an absent alcoholic father and the the mental illness of his mother. He was sent to a workhouse at just 7 years old and again a few years later. However he was a talented tap dancer and stage performer from a very young age, rapidly becoming a star in both the UK and North America. The new museum tells the story of his rags to riches journey, in the intimate setting of his family home.
Chaplin’s World by Grévin is set to launch its immersive experience into the world of Charlie Chaplin, designed to appeal to visitors of all ages. Set in a four-hectare park where Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life, it has spectacular views of the Alps and Lake Léman. The new museum has been designed by Philippe Meylan and Yves Durand, directed by Grévin and staged by Agence Confino. Grévin are famed for their wax museums, and this is their fourth international site. Spread over 3000 m², the thematic tour includes a visit of The Manoir de Ban, recreating Chaplin’s private and public life. His family have been closely associated with the project and some of Chaplin’s personal items are on public display for the first time. He was a friend of many celebrities and musicians, and the library evokes his passion for music.
The journey continues in The Studio, presenting the cinematographic world of the artist and filmmaker. It leads us onto Easy Street, one the most iconic of his movies.
Moving on, you’ll enter the world of The Circus, discovering other famous actors from the era of silent films includinig Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy.
There’s much more to see including Hollywood Boulevard where you may come face to face with The Tramp or other characters from Chaplin’s films. There are over 30 waxworks created by Grévin, including some of the actors and actresses from his films such as Sophia Loren.
Make time to enjoy the restaurant in the grounds and to stroll around the park that Chaplin and his family loved so much…
And once you’ve left the museum, be sure to visit Charlie Chaplin’s statue on the waterfront! I’ll leave the final word to Jean-Pierre Pigeon, the manager of Chaplin’s World: “The tour of Chaplin’s World is scripted and staged using cutting edge multimedia technologies to immerse visitors in the atmosphere of the era, the personality of the man, his work and his talent. With the agreement of the Chaplin Family, designers Yves Durand and Philippe Meylan and Compagnie des Alpes, the developer and operator, have drawn on the huge heritage left by Chaplin to open to the public a truly immersive venue and offer a Chaplinian experience. We very much look forward to welcoming our first visitors.”
To be the first to visit Chaplin’s World, on April 17 2016, it’s probably wise to purchase your e-ticket in advance at: http://tickets.chaplinsworld.
Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed December 25th and January 1st.
The museum is easily reached by plane from Geneva, then a 1h15 minute journey by car or train to Vevey.
Chaplin’s World, Route de Fenil 2, 1804 Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland