Sign Up for Our Monthly Europe Newsletter
To marvel about the earliest years of Hollywood cinema is to also admire the work of Charlie Chaplin. Born April 16, 1889, in England as Charles Spencer Chaplin, the iconic figure overcame a childhood of poverty and hardship by finding comfort in the arts. Chaplin worked as a stage actor and comedian and, eventually, headed to the Americas. There, he built popular personas — such as the Tramp —and enlivened silent movies with the clever entwinement of comedy and tragedy.
I’ll admit that all the above, save for a basic, black-and-white knowledge of Chaplin’s slapstick-style humor, was news to me — a ’90s-born, first-generation Asian American whose parents didn’t care much for old films. And so, as I stepped through the front doors of Chaplin’s World in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, my levels of excitement and expectation were quite low.
However, the museum, which opened in April 2016 after 15 years of development, blew my presumptions out of the water.
Chaplin’s World is set in the 1840 Manoir de Ban, the former Chaplin estate where the actor and filmmaker lived for 25 years after he was forced to leave the U.S. and then settle in Switzerland. Outfitted with high-tech technology and the immeasurable creativity of architect Philippe Meylan and museographer Yves Durand, the delightful museum brings to life all the magic of Chaplin and his beloved work. It showcases film montages; presents exceptionally lifelike wax figures (startled, I often had to take a closer look); and invites visitors to partake in Chaplin’s humorous and emotional storylines via interactive movie sets.
At Chaplin’s World, there’s an astonishing attention to detail that duly merits admiration and respect. I couldn’t help but indulge in the merrymaking around me, as Chaplin fans lost themselves in the immersive exhibits.
The museum encompasses three sections: The Studio, The Manoir and The Park. In The Studio, which takes notes from Hollywood-style studios, visitors take their turn in the limelight on fantastic sets that emulate scenes in Chaplin’s films. The Manoir enables exploration of the neoclassical-style building where Chaplin and his wife, Oona O'Neill Chaplin, made a home with their eight children. (Don’t miss a chance to pose with Chaplin’s dear friends, including Albert Einstein and Sophia Loren, in The Manoir.) Finally, The Park covers the estate’s 10 acres, where visitors can enjoy fresh air and admire clear, year-round views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
The DetailsChaplin’s Worldwww.chaplinsworld.com