The new building is a rectangular monolith, built parallel to the railway tracks. The deep vertical fins were designed in order to prevent any direct sunlight from entering the exhibition spaces. While its facade is mostly closed towards the railway side for conservation reasons, it is much more open towards the north. Its windows reflect the cityscape during the day while allowing artificial light to flow out onto the square during the night.
The sculpture in front of the museum by Olivier Mosset and Xavier Veilhan is titled “Crocodile” after the iconic crocodile-shaped Swiss electric train engine that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019.
The MCBA was created in 1841. Its collection now comprises more than 10000 artworks with a particular focus on art from the end of the eighteenth century to contemporary art. It previously housed inside the Espace Arlaud and then the Palais de Rumine. Inside the new museum building, the artworks are located on the second and third levels, with one side dedicated to the permanent collection and the other side used for temporary exhibitions.
The MCBA's entrance hall, with views towards the Lausanne train station and the Léman, features the 14.5m high sculpture "Luce e ombra" by the Italian artist Giuseppe Penone. The arched window was preserved from the 19th-century train hall previously located in the space of the new museum building.
In addition to the entrance hall with the ticket office, the ground floor offers space for the museum bookstore and a restaurant.