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With the Rio Olympics upon us, I thought you might enjoy a couple of the world’s best Olympic museums – including one museum that’s one of the best I’ve ever enjoyed.

Start in Barcelona, the home of the 1992 Summer Olympics, for the Barcelona Olympic Museum (Museu Olimpic i de l’esport). While not solely focused on the Olympics, the sports not represented in the Summer or Winter Olympics are acknowledged and celebrated.

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It’s not every day you see a race car mounted to a wall… There’s plenty of English on the panels, by the way.

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Just a few of the Olympic torches over the years.

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…followed by some large examples of the licensed mascots.

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…and then there’s this guy. The ‘sun’ character was part of Barcelona’s opening ceremony…. but egad that’s a crazy looking face mask…

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One of the interactive parts of the museum – race against the figure, or let your kids try the long jump!

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One section shows a bunch of the old Olympics logos – this one was especially trippy.

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And then there’s the bicycle built for 12 after the escalator. Produced and ridden by the Sisquillo family, the bicycle must have been a sight when a dozen people rode by…

Overall, it’s a sports museum first and an Olympics museum second. There’s an excellent representation of women (though calling Mia Hamm ‘the best football player in history’ might be taking it a bit far) and .

Name: Olympic Museum (Museu Olimpic i de l’esport AKA Museo Olímpico Y Del Deporte Joan Antoni Samaranch)
Address: Av. de l’Estadi, 60, 08038, Barcelona 93 292 35 79  (GPS: 41.366176, 2.157540)
Directions: Funicular train station (Parallel), cross road and take bus 150 to the Olympic stadium on your right.
Hours:10am-8pm (April-September) 10am-6pm (October-March), 10am-2:30pm (Sundays from Oct-Mar), free on Sept 24th.
Admission: 5.10 €, 3.20 € for students, free under 7 (free with Barcelona card)
Phone: +34 932 92 53 79
Website: http://www.museuolimpicbcn.cat

Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)

Ease to arrive:

3globes

Foreigner-friendly:

4globes

Convenience facilities:

4globes

Worth the visit:

4globes

And then there’s the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland…

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Switzerland is far from the cheapest European destination (I’ve covered how to handle that, though), but the Olympic Museum in Lausanne is a don’t-miss-out chance to appreciate the century-plus set of Olympics. Go on, get your picture taken with this trio from yesteryear…

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…then try to name all the various sports by just their icons.

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Another collection of Olympic torches, accompanied by some touchscreens with more details.

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Where this Olympic Museum excels are the original tools used in previous games – naturally, the Swiss are only happy to show a bobsled.

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Some of the previous figure skating costumes of gold medal winners of 1984 and 1988.

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The highlight here – and some seriously world-class highlights at that – is the interactive stuff. The simulated biathlon shootings is harder than it looks!

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Supposedly, a training game – on ‘go’, hit the light up button wherever it appears. The buttons from knee-level (for most adults) to a decent reach over your head. Meant for flexibility and quick reaction, it’s a decent way to loosen you up. Seen along the left side is a series of athletes across dozens of disciplines – a reminder that big, small, tall, and short people have gone onto Olympic glory.

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You may not be in a position to win one for yourself, but you can at least see them all. Look for a very well done montage of opening ceremonies.

Overall, this is not a museum, but an experience that ends up being one of the very best muiseums I’ve ever enjoyed. Beyond the presentations, video, sound, and touchscreens, it’s also a well-designed building. You’ll enjoy a well-curated selection of history, superb interactive elements. It’s a gold standard for what a museum that never dreamed of a budget can be like.

Name: Olympic Museum (Le Musèe Olympique)
Address: Quai d’Ouchy 1, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland  (GPS: 46.508732, 6.634088)
Directions: While bus 8 or 25 stops closest to the museum, you can walk here from the Délices metro station in about 600 meters (8-10 minutes). After exiting, head east on Avenue de Cour (later called Avenue de l’Elysee), pass the Musee de l’Elysee, then look for the museum on the right.
Hours: 9am-6pm (May-Oct 14), 10am-6pm (Oct 15 – April 30th, closed on Mondays)
Admission: 18 CHF (14 CHF with discount card)
Phone: +41 21 621 65 11
Website: www.olympic.org/museum

Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)

Ease to arrive:

4.5 globes

Foreigner-friendly:

5globes

Convenience facilities:

4.5 globes

Worth the visit:

5globes

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