The MRVT from 1859 till today
1859 : The Museum Society of Fleurier (Société du Musée de Fleurier)
The regional Museum of the Val-de-Travers (MRVT) is the inheritor of the Society of the Museum of Fleurier, which was founded in 1859 by 14 indviduals. This society for public benefit and mutual education took part in various cultural projects in the Val-de-Travers: opening of a museum in Fleurier, which lasted for nearly 100 years, organization of public conferences, tree plantations at the place called La Caroline, opening of a library, building of public baths, construction of various pedestrian paths, which still today lead up to the Poëta Raisse gorge and the Chapeau de Napoléon mountain, organizing drawing classes and film projections, creating a school foyer.
The Museum of Fleurier opened in 1865 in the building which today houses the village library. It was then a true cabinet of curios with miscellaneous items given by the villagers or brought back by local people who travelled abroad. The items were displayed in the museum for educational purposes.
1969 : The Association of the regional history and craft Museum of the Val-de-Travers
In 1969 the Society of the Museum of Fleurier became the Association of the regional history and craft Museum of the Val-de-Travers. Its members, as attested by the choice of the new name, decided to develop the museum and its collections for the whole region in a more museum manner. New items were collected, which were at that time disappearing on account of industrialization. Other activities for public benefit were passed on to the commune to enable the Association to only take care of the museum.
1979 : purchase of Mascarons House in Môtiers
After the purchase of Mascarons House and its adjacent barn by the Association, the museum and its collections were moved to Grande Rue 14 in Môtiers. Year after year numerous cultural events took place there: concerts, theater plays and exhibitions. For a long time Mascarons House was perceived as a real attraction center for culture in the Val-de-Travers. As industrialization progressed in the region, the Association members continued to save objects testifying to the past and to the progressively disappearing know-how.
1998 : purchase of the Absinth Drying Barn in Boveresse
Purchasing the Absinth Drying Barn enabled the Association to have it classified as a historical monument. After some work on the building, the Association offers since the year 2000 an exhibition on the history of absinth and presents there several agricultural and horse-drawn vehicles, which are the bulkiest items of the collections.
2003 : purchase of the Pension Beauregard in Fleurier
In 2003 the Association purchased the Pension Beauregard – one of the oldest civil buildings preserved in the Val-de-Travers – for two main reasons: to keep this historical building in the local landscape and to offer space for temporary exhibitions. The Pension was inaugurated in 2005 after substantial architectural work.
2014: the Foundation of the regional Museum of Val-d-Travers
In December 2014 the Association became the Society of the Friends of the regional Museum of the Val-de-Travers (Société des Amis du Musée régional du Val-de-Travers). The Foundation of the regional Museum of Val-de-Travers was formed in parallel, ensuring a more permanent status and a stronger legal basis for the Museum. The Society of Friends can thereby retain the dynamism of an association, its members no longer having to manage the institution.
2016 : Reopening of the Mascarons Museum
The number of visitors in the Mascarons Museum had been declining for some time and the museography had not been changed for 40 years. It was decided to revitalize the Museum in two ways: a renovation of the building to comply with legal standards and the installation of a new museum project. After a 3 years closure, the museum reopened for the public in November 2016.
Today the regional Museum of the Val-de-Travers (MRVT) is the Mascarons Museum, the Absinth Drying Barn and the Pension Beauregard, all managed by a curator supported by a Foundation Council, assistants, the Society of Friends of the MRVT and volunteers. Together they work at making the museum an indispensable actor of the cultural life in the region. The MRVT offers intergenerational activities creating social bond and nurturing a regional sense of belonging. In a wider area it contributes to the diffusion of the historical riches of the Val-de-Travers in the outside world.