Chillon™ Castle, an exceptional heritage site, has almost four hundred objects on display throughout. Except for the furniture, weaponry and armour, all the objects exhibited here come from archaeological excavations that took place at the castle between 1896 and 1903. The collections belong to the Cantonal Museum of Archaeology and History in Lausanne, under the name “fonds Chillon” (the Chillon collections).
In 1842, the Society for the History of Francophone Switzerland (SHSR) suggested setting up an antiques museum in one of the castle halls. The Grand Council did not take to the idea and, instead, voted to build prison cells in two areas of the castle the following year.
The Association for the Restoration of Chillon Castle was eventually founded in 1887. It upheld the Society’s aim, by writing both the creation of a museum exhibiting the diverse periods of Vaudois history and the restoration of the fortress into its statute. The state unlocked funds for various purchases, such as the chests, objects of worship or torture, a stove and items of tinware. Ten years later, Chillon was literally stripped bare and archaeological excavations revealed hundreds of everyday objects dating from the Middle Ages to the 17th century: crockery, coins, toys, weapons, etc.
The castle collection then grew thanks to donations, and later the Association's acquisitions from 1905 onwards: gothic chests, Renaissance sideboards, furniture, tinware, bronze, earthenware plates, keys and locks, andirons, etc. Finally, in the 1920s and 1950s, the Cantonal Museum of Archaeology and History deposited over four hundred objects at Chillon.
These collections were kept at the castle until 2007. A substantial inventory was then taken, in parallel with the creation of a new visitor itinerary. The Chillon Castle Foundation - to which the Association passed the baton in 2002 - made the decision to place the focus on the castle's architecture. Most of the objects were repatriated into the Cantonal Museum’s storage, but a small selection was exhibited as part of the visitor itinerary, with the aim of illustrating the castle’s history. Chillon was no longer a variety museum, but rather a patrimonial monument.
Nowadays, the collections on show are mainly divided into three categories: weapons and armour, chests, and archaeological objects.