Jean-Jacques Rousseau Bust

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Museum

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a citizen of Geneva, lived from 1712 to 1788. His many controversial books earned him popularity among many, but also anger from government and religious authorities. As a result he was sometimes 'on the run.' One of the places he ran to was Môtiers a little village in the Travers Valley in present day Switzerland where he lived for about three years. He would have lived longer in this small, quiet, idyllic village if he had not been, more or less, chased out of town.

From Môtiers he traveled down the Travers Valley to the area of the bigger town of Neuchâtel. Jean-Jacques had friends in the area, one of whom lived on the street Coq d'Inde downtown. In Neuchâtel he left some of his original manuscripts. Jean-Jacques continued on and stayed briefly on an island called Isle St. Pierre in the middle of a lake. His stay on Isle St. Pierre was brief. The island was in the jurisdiction of the city of Bern. The city authorities did not want such a controversial person in their territory, so ordered him to leave.

Village of Môtiers Today

Rousseau Museum Exhibits

The very small Rousseau Museum houses some of Rousseau's hand-written manuscripts, a bust of the philosopher, copies of engravings, timeline, and other details of Rousseau's life. The museum is located in the Neuchâtel's Public and University Library (Bibliothèque publique et universitaire).

Finding the museum can be a little difficult, so I will give you fairly detailed instructions.

Go to the main post office in downtown Neuchâtel. If you are standing with your back to the tower of the post office, walk two blocks down the street in front of you. The library is on your left.

Village of Môtiers Today

Library Entrance

Go up the wide stairs of the library, open the big wooden door, and walk right in. The library building is open to the public, so you don't need to feel you are intruding.

As you enter through the wooden door you will see a grand staircase directly in front of you. Go up the staircase, and make a left. You will see a long hallway in front of you.

Library Grand Staircase

Hallway in Library leading to the Rousseau museum

Walk to nearly the end of the hallway. The entrance to the Rousseau Museum is on your left.

If you have made it here at the right time, open the door and walk right in. You will be greeted by the caretaker of the museum. There is no charge for visiting the museum though attached to the inside of the door is a little box in which you can drop a little donation.

Opening hours are Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2:00 to 5:00. Special time arrangements can be made for groups.

Bibliothèque publique et universitaire, 3 Place Numa-Droz, Neuchâtel, CH-2000.

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Rousseau Museum Door