The Kid, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times. Anybody possessing even the slightest bit of Hollywood trivia under their belt knows what each of these titles has in common. One man- Charlie Chaplin. It is this man’s life and legacy that is being honored with Chaplin’s World, the 3000 m² thematic tour that has been established by the world renowned, Parisian wax museum, Grevin, at the Manoir de Ban, Charlie Chaplin’s last residence by the edge of Lake Geneva in the beautiful Vaudois Riviera. Charlie spent twenty five very happy years here, sharing a cozy family existence alongside his wife, Oona, and their eight children. And it is this life “amidst souvenirs and dreams” that the museum is celebrating.
Sixteen years ago, architect Philippe Meylan, and museographer Yves Durand, came up with the idea to create a museum dedicated to the British legend and his career. Thankfully, when they shared this concept with Charlie’s children they received a positive response—as the Chaplins know just how loved their father still is by millions around the world. And so began the long and arduous journey to bring that vision to reality. Finally, April 16th 2016 saw the culmination of that vision when Chaplin’s World was finally inaugurated, making the memory of Charlie Chaplin and his iconic alter ego, the Tramp (“Charlot” in French), the most generous hosts at the museum celebrating the life, work and ongoing legacy of this film innovator and legend.
Designed by firm, Confino, the interactive entertainment museum is determined to immerse visitors in the “Hollywoodian” life of the Manoir’s former owner. The three-part tour begins at the 500 m² neoclassical-style Manor house which has been mostly recreated to its former glory; back to when Charlie shared many happy moments there with family and friends. Thanks to the talented wax carvers at Grevin, visitors may “walk in” on a moment with Charlie and Oona in their home screening room, or see Albert Einstein—a dear friend of Charlie’s—clowning around in the bathroom. Gathering around the Chaplins’ dining room, visitors are given special insights into the reasons Charlie made Switzerland his home, the family’s daily life, and are told stories about their many celebrity friends.
Charlie Chaplin—the artist, is the focus in the Studio, a 1,350 m² building dedicated to the actor and filmmaker’s career path. Starting with an introduction of the world in the early 20th century that shaped Charlie, visitors are then transported onto recreations of some of the emblematic sets from Charlie’s most iconic movies, such as Easy Street or the machine room from Modern Times. Once again, Grevin has freeze-framed scenes from the movies, “casting” them with wax figures of their legendary stars, such as Edna Purviance, Virginia Cherrill and Eric Cambell. Of course, the Tramp is always there, making unexpected appearances, and making his guests feel a part of the mythical movie scenes before them.
The verdant, four-hectare grounds of the surrounding Park affords visitors an entirely different view of their beloved Charlie Chaplin who loved nature and spending time outdoors surrounded by the mountains, lake and vineyards that enveloped his home and was known to feed the wildlife on the premises just for the pleasure of observing them. In fact, Charlie and his wife would often enjoy their lunch under the shade of one of the centuries-old, cypress, pine or cedar trees—choosing a different tree to sit beside each day.
Designed by international creative agency CentDegrés, the Tramp Restaurant furthers the full Chaplin’s World experience: housed in this redone farmhouse, visitors are given a glimpse of the easy, café-like atmosphere that Charlie would often seek out for himself. Inspired by the factory scene in Modern Times the decor features the brick walls and wooden accents such as swinging doors and tables that conspire to make any space homely; even the menu follows suit and offers a daily selection of “Chaplin-themed” simple delicacies intended to delight patrons. CentDegrés was also responsible for the museum's hospitality design, including the shop and signage.
Many people are concerned about doing something important in their lifetimes; achieving goals that will make an impression on their contemporaries as well as their descendants. A visit to Chaplin’s World seems to assure that both the memory and spirit of Charlie Chaplin truly do live on; still inspiring, still captivating, and still spreading cheer from the beautiful shoreline of Lake Geneva.