A site museum

The Roman Museum of Nyon was built on the foundations of the forum basilica, discovered in 1974. It houses the heritage of the Colonia Iulia Equestris, founded during the lifetime of Julius Caesar in the 1st century BC, and its urban center Noviodunum.

Régis Golay, federal-studio.com

The Roman Museum of Nyon is an archaeological site museum. It is part of the Department of Culture of the City of Nyon. It is officially recognised by the State (Canton de Vaud) as responsible for the conservation and enhancement of archaeological material from the Roman period found in the district of Nyon.

Nyon is the subject of intense archaeological research activity, because its center has not changed since Antiquity. The discoveries made over time and with its development bear witness to the life of our ancestors. They form the core of the collections of the Roman Museum. Its exhibitions combine ancient remains, models and immersive digital devices including films, animated images and 3D reconstructions.

Through its exhibitions and activities, the museum brings the heritage of Colonia Iulia Equestris to life. Its mission is to support scientific studies on the site, to highlight the ancient remains of the region, and to preserve them for future generations, as irreplaceable sources of knowledge about our humanity.

Remains collected over several centuries

The excavations made over time in Nyon, in cellars and basements, began to interest scholars in the 18th century. Interest in this prestigious past contributed to the creation in 1860, under the leadership of Théodore Wellauer, of a local history museum which collected Roman objects and which soon moved to the castle. From the 1930s, Edgar Pelichet, notably curator of the museum and then cantonal archaeologist, carried out studies and research in the field. Knowledge about Roman Nyon progressed significantly until the spectacular discovery, in 1974, of the foundations of the forum basilica, built in the second half of the 1st century AD.

From monument to museum

Shortly after the discovery of the foundations of the forum basilica, the City of Nyon decided to make this exceptional monument the setting for a new museum, inaugurated in September 1979. The Roman Museum of Nyon thus fulfills the dual function of protecting the ancient monument and presentation of local collections. The latter continue to be enriched with the excavations carried out in Nyon. The potential for discovery that lies dormant beneath the city is far from exhausted.

Forum basilica, Nyon, excavations 1974

A museography linked to the site

The scenography of the museum promotes the readability of the foundations of the basilica: suspended display cases, cornices and “aerial” capitals, the ground at the bottom of the excavation cleared of all furniture. The entrance to the museum is built at the level of the Rue Maupertuis and a terrace is set up on the slab covering the museum, at the level of the ancient circulation, where differentiated shades on the ground and concrete bases mark the plan and location presumed to be the columns of the basilica. A “trompe-l’oeil” perspective on the facade of an adjoining building allows us to imagine the imposing dimensions of the building. There, a copy of a statue of Julius Caesar triumphed and a garden was planted with species grown in our regions by the Romans.