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Prix Gaïa 2001 – Catherine Cardinal. History-Research category

She was awarded for her whole career as the author of several watchmaking reference books and curator and scientific director of the International Museum of Horology, which she managed from 1988 to 2000. During her time there, she organized several exhibitions and symposiums of international importance.


PhD in art history

Selected works

  • Ferdinand Berthoud, 1727- 1807, horloger mécanicien du Roi et de la Marine, La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1984
  • The Watch: From its Origins to XIXth century, Office du Livre, Freiburg, 1985.
  • L'Homme et le temps en Suisse 1291-1991, La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1991.
  • Catalogue d'oeuvres choisies: du cadran solaire à l'horloge atomique, (coauteur avec J.-M. Piguet), Musée International d'Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1999.

Before Gaïa

After obtaining a doctorate in Art History at Paris-Sorbonne University for the thesis “Une histoire de la montre du 16ème au 19ème siècle” (history of watches from XVIth to XIXth centuries), Catherine Cardinal joined the Conservatoire National des Arts et des Métiers in Paris as a research engineer.

She was in charge of watch, automata and astronomy collections.

In 1988, her professional career took a different path when she was appointed the curator of the International Museum of Horology in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Cardinal was in perfect symbiosis with the institution, which she brought to new heights on an international level. On top of that, her work at the MIH helped her develop her skills in watchmaking history and museography.

In collaboration with her assistant Jean-Michel Piguet, she wrote the museum's “Catalogue d'oeuvres choisies” (catalog of selected works) on the 25th anniversary of the current building where the museum has taken up residence. This allowed her to add even more value to the collection she diversified with pertinent purchases. She had a particular interest in watch creators and organized exhibitions dedicated, for instance, to Ferdinand Berthoud (1984) as commissioner, Charles Ed. Guillaume (1980) and Abraham L. Breguet (1997).

Each of the above-metioned exhibitions were later published. In 1991, on the occasion of the Confederation's 700th anniversary, Cardinal organized a double exhibition named “L'Homme et le Temps en Suisse 1291-1991”, which went through Switzerland and abroad.

The Swiss flag was raised in Geneva, Basel, Bienne, Bellinzone while the second flag travelled across the world -  Hanover, Leipzig, Marseilles and Toronto.

In parallel to her curator duties, Cardinal was also the scientific director of the institution and led research studies in collaboration with the University of Neuchâtel and the FNRS. In this capacity, she organized symposiums that were always focused on time and watchmaking.

After Gaïa

In December 2000, Cardinal obtained her post-doctoral qualification. She currently teaches History of Decorative Arts and painting in the 17th and 18th centuries. She also continued her collaboration with several museums.

And receive each week a custom selection of articles.

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