(26.05.1928 – 17.04. 1999)
Michel Bertrand was born in a family of small landowners, his parents, Leon and Florin Bertrand were selling their crops at the market. Already at school Michel showed interest in creativity, in drawing. Every object, be it a large potato, or a piece of wood, was the reason for creating, transforming and shaping up something new.
At the age of 25 Michelle went to Paris, where he met his future wife Jacqueline. Due to hard work and talent in prototyping and sculpture, Michelle was involved in many interesting creative projects - from decorating department store windows to participating in the development of the supersonic Concorde model. At the same time, he remained fascinated with automatons and believed that electric toys, invading the market, devoid of magic, could never compare with his mechanical automatons.
In the late 1960's Michelle moved to the suburbs of Paris, Malakoff. It is there that he could surrender to his passion and realize the scale of his talent. Surrounded by his wife and children, he worked for 12 hours 7 days a week. His wife Jacqueline for him was a muse, a manager, a counselor, a secretary, a driver. Thus, the artist could concentrate completely on his work. One of his first major achievements was the restoration of the automatons private collection in Monaco. Soon, his own creations brought him recognition: a ventriloquist's doll, iridescent songbirds, Pierrot, ballerinas and clowns.
Over time, the family moved to Switzerland, and Michel's workshop, open to visitors, became the "cave of Ali Baba": as far as the eyes could see there were porcelain and plaster heads and cardboard bodies, hundreds of pairs of sparkling glass eyes were seen from the open boxes, dozens of mechanisms were already prepared for the embodiment of all the details into a perfect toy.
Thanks to Michel Bertrand the Saint Croix region became a well-known center for the music boxes and mechanical automatons production, and Bertrand himself - one of the founders of CIMA, International Centre for Art Mechanics.
The CIMA Museum is dedicated solely to music boxes and mechanical musical automatons. The museum represents the history of the "mechanical music", exposing objects from singing birds to a cylindrical phonograph, invented by Thomas Edison.