Museums in Switzerland
Switzerland is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons and is bordered by Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Switzerland is geographically divided between the Alps, which occupy the more significant part of the territory. The largest cities are Zürich and Geneva.
The establishment of the Old Swiss Confederacy dates to the late medieval period, and the country has a history of armed neutrality going back to the Reformation; it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815.
Switzerland is one of the most developed countries in the world, with a rich cultural heritage, with many world-class museums.
Best Museums in Switzerland
Museums in Zürich, Switzerland
- Kunsthaus Zürich
- The Kunsthaus Zürich houses an outstanding art collection that spans from the Middle Ages to contemporary art, with an emphasis on Swiss art. The museum’s collection includes works by significant artists including Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Manet, and Henri Matisse. The Kunsthaus Zürich holds one of the most extensive Munch collection outside of Norway. It has an extensive selection of Alberto Giacometti’s work and paintings by Monet, Picasso, Chagall, and Kokoschka. The New York School is represented by works from Pollock, Rothko, and Newman. European and American artworks represent pop art. The Kunsthaus Zürich’s Modern Art Collection includes video installations and photographs by Fischli/Weiss and Pipilotti Rist.
- Swiss National Museum
- The Swiss National Museum’s building from 1898 is the historicist style of the French Renaissance city chateaus. Designed with dozens of towers, courts, and the park on a peninsula between the rivers Sihl and Limmat in the Old City District of Zurich. The museum’s collection spans from prehistory through to ancient times and the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Also, the selection of gothic art, chivalry, and a comprehensive collection of liturgical wooden sculptures, panel paintings, and carved altars, is impressive.
- Rietberg Museum
- The Rietberg Museum collection includes Asian, African, American, and Oceanian art. It is the only art museum focusing on non-European art and design in Switzerland. The Rietberg Museum is situated in Rieterpark in central Zürich, and consists of several historic buildings: the Wesendonck Villa, the Remise, the Rieter Park-Villa, and the Schönberg Villa. In 2007 a new building was opened that more than doubled the museum’s exhibition space.
Museum in Geneva, Switzerland
- Museum of Art and History (Musée d’Art et d’Histoire)
- The Museum of Art and History is the largest art museum in Geneva. The museum dates back to 1826. The fine art collection has paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, with works by the Italian, Dutch, French, English, Genevan, and Swiss Schools. Major artists include Rembrandt, Cézanne, Modigliani, Jean-Pierre Saint-Ours, and the sculptor Rodin. The museum also has many works by Jean-Étienne Liotard, Ferdinand Hodler, Félix Vallotton, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. The applied art collection includes Byzantine art, icons, weapons from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, silverware and tinware, musical instruments, and textiles. The archaeology section displays findings from European prehistory, ancient Egypt, Sudan, the Near East, ancient Greece, and Roman and pre-Roman Italy, as well as a numismatic cabinet.
- Musée Ariana
- The Musée Ariana, also known as the Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass, is devoted to ceramic and glass artwork and has around 20,000 objects from the last 1,200 years, representing the historic, geographic, artistic, and technological breadth of glass and ceramic manufacture during this time. Built between 1877 and 1884, the museum is shaped by Neo-Classical and Neo-Baroque elements.
- International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
- The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum is a museum that was opened in 1988 and features the exhibition named “The Humanitarian Adventure.” The exhibition presents three contemporary problems through three distinct spaces: Defending human dignity, Reconstructing family links, and Reducing natural risks.
- Geneva Ethnography Museum
- The Geneva Museum of Ethnography was founded in1901 to bring together public and private ethnographic collections of the Archaeology Museum and the Musée Ariana, the holdings of the Evangelical Missionary Society Museum and weapons from the Geneva History Museum.
- Patek Philippe Museum
- The Patek Philippe Museum focuses on the story of Patek Phillippe & Swiss watchmaking from the 16th century to now. The museum’s collection includes hundreds of watch prices covering the evolution of watchmaking technology.
- Natural History Museum of Geneva
- The Natural History Museum of Geneva is a natural history museum containing several historical and famous collections.
Museums in Lucerne, Switzerland
- Swiss Museum of Transport
- The Swiss Transport Museum first opened in 1959 and exhibits all forms of transport, including locomotive, automobiles, ships, and aircraft, as well as communication technology. The museum also maintains an extensive collection of work by Hans Erni, a local painter, and sculptor. Other attractions in the museum including a planetarium, a large-format cinema.
Museums in Lausanne, Switzerland
- Musée de l’Élysée
- The Musée de l’Élysée is a museum devoted to photography. The collection of more than 100,000 photographs includes those of color pioneer Gabriel Lippmann right up to contemporary photographers such as Jeff Wall. In 2011 the museum acquired Charlie Chaplin’s entire collection of photographs: around 10,000 photographs taken throughout Chaplin’s career.
- The Olympic Museum
- The Olympic Museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits on sport and the Olympic movement. With more than 10,000 artifacts, the museum is the most extensive archive of Olympic Games in the world. The permanent exhibition is organized into three major themes on three separate floors: the Olympic World, the Olympic Games, and the Olympic Spirit.
- Natural History Museum of Basel
- Natural History Museum of Basel has a collection focused on the fields of zoölogy, entomology, mineralogy, anthropology, osteology, and paleontology. Its mission is to expand, conserve, explore, document, and communicate the over 7.7 million objects in its holdings, which are conceived as an “Archive of Life.”
Museums in Basel, Switzerland
- Fine Arts Museum Basel
- The Kunstmuseum Basel houses the most significant public art collection in Switzerland and is listed as a heritage site. Its lineage extends back to an array of works by Hans Holbein purchased by the city of Basel in 1661, which became one of the earliest public museums in the world. Its collection spans a wide historical span, from the early 15th century up to present. This collection includes paintings and drawings by artists active in the Upper Rhine region between 1400 and 1600, and on the Art of the 19th to 21st centuries.
- Basel Paper Mill
- The Basel Paper Mill is also known as the Swiss Museum for Paper, Writing and Printing in Basel, is primarily dedicated to papermaking, the art of book printing, and writing in general. Through a combination of pictures and objects, visitors gain insights into the old artisanal techniques of dipping paper, printing, and bookbinding. The museum is located in a building that was a 500 years ago paper mill and which is of national significance.
- Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection
- The Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection is devoted to the art of ancient civilizations from the 4th millennium BC to the 7th century AD. The collection includes works of art from the Mediterranean region, predominantly from the period from 1000 BC to 300 AD. A significant collection is the collection of Greek vases and sculptures, the Ancient Egyptian, Near East, and Cyprus collections.
- Museum of Cultures
- The Museum of Cultures is a museum of ethnography with collections of artifacts from Europe, the South Pacific, Mesoamerica, Tibet, and Bali. With about 300,000 objects and a similar number of historic photographs, the museum is the largest of its kind in Europe.
- Dollhouse Museum
- The Dollhouse Museum displays over 6,000 exhibits consisting of teddy bears, dolls, playshops, dollhouses, and miniatures. It also regularly organizes special exhibitions on individual themes. The museum’s teddy bear collection is unique in terms of variety and quality.
Museum in Bern, Switzerland
- Museum of Fine Arts Bern
- The Museum of Fine Arts Bern established in 1879, is the oldest art museum in Switzerland. Its collection spans from the Middle Ages to the present. The collection consists of over 3,000 paintings and sculptures as well as 48,000 drawings, prints, photographs, videos, and films.
- Bern Historical Museum
- The Bern Historical Museum is a historical museum in a building that was modeled on various historic castles from the 15th and 16th centuries. The museum contains collections related to the history of Bern from prehistoric times to the present and other artifacts on permanent display from Asia, Oceania, America, and Egypt. One highlight of the collection is the Muri statuette group, a group of six Gallo-Roman bronze figurines.
- Museum Tinguely
- The Museum Tinguely is an art museum with a permanent exhibition of the works of Swiss painter and sculptor Jean Tinguely. A variety of Tinguely’s kinetic art sculptures are on permanent display, complemented with illustrations, photographs, and other documents related to the artist’s life and work.
- Country: Swiss Confederation
- German: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft
- French: Confédération Suisse
- Italian: Confederazione Svizzera
- Romansh: Confederaziun svizra
- Capital: None. Bern is the seat of the federal authorities.
- National language German, French, Italian, Romansh
- Population: 8.4 million
Swiss Proverbs and Quotes
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Museums in Switzerland
“The devil hides himself in details.”
– Swiss Proverb
Photo Credit: By Biovit (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons