Facelift for Menuhin Center

Mon, 13. Sep. 2021

On 1 January, the future of the Menuhin Center in Saanen was placed in the hands of the Saanen Friends of the International Menuhin Music Academy (IMMA). This summer, the museum reopened.

On 1 January, the future of the Menuhin Center in Saanen was placed in the hands of the Saanen Friends of the International Menuhin Music Academy (IMMA). This summer, the museum reopened.

Anyone familiar with the Menuhin Center, which is located in the Salzhüsy in Saanen, is likely to rub their eyes at the new look of the museum. It looks bright, clear and tidy. It was all this before, but it now looks completely different. What has happened?

Fewer exhibits
Çetin Köksal, president of the Saanen Friends of the IMMA, goes into raptures when he talks about the almost unbelievably rich collection that the Menuhin Center Saanen, under the aegis of Dr Rolf Steiger, has amassed over the past twenty years about the star violinist Menuhin. With his brother Erhan, Köksal has painstakingly gone through, sorted and reassembled this wealth of collected memorabilia.

“We want to keep the museum character but present fewer exhibits at once,” he says. This is to prevent individual exhibits from getting lost. And the visitors should also be offered more variety: “Interested visitors should have the opportunity to discover new things on further visits,” says Köksal.

And among old posters, photos, sheet music and other collector’s items, a violin of unknown origin has even turned up.

A violin for children’s hands
Children and museums can be a rather complicated combination, especially when there is a lot of reading involved, as is the case at the Menuhin Center. Köksal knows this too and has unceremoniously polished the recovered violin and made it ready for curious children who like to look with their fingers.

“Parents can take more time if the children also have something to discover,” is Köksal’s motto. People should be able to linger, leaf through books, browse through photos, letters and correspondence. And upon request, visitors can even study archive material.

Helping hands
Franziska Haldi, who was once president of the IMMA Foundation and chairwoman of the Bern Friends of the IMMA, is part of the team. She will surprise visitors with her immense knowledge of Yehudi Menuhin.

Alison Bach also joined the team. She symbolises the bridge that needs to be built again and again between young people and classical music. “We want young people to be enthusiastic about classical music in general and Yehudi Menuhin in particular,” says Köksal. After all, Menuhin was an important personality for the municipality of Saanen and the entire region.

Visions and ideas
The Menuhin Center also wants to reinvent itself as a meeting place and perhaps even as an organiser of events. Köksal says that nothing is ready to go public yet, but adds that ideas are around.

“We are still not averse to new members joining us,” says Köksal with a laugh and emphasises that they are, of course, always on the lookout for new exhibits that have something to do with Yehudi Menuhin in some way.

The former Menuhin Center Saanen is in good hands now. The Friends of the IMMA are eager to carry on the legacy that had been built over the years, keep up the founders’ spirit, but nevertheless move on with new ideas and fresh energy.



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Issue 6 | 2021

Wait, can this be the last editorial of this summer? Must be because of the relativity thing. Relativity of time – a wonderful concept to toy around with. Not as a theoretical physicist, way too complicated. No, I mean as a layman.