Art lovers in Switzerland have a wide variety of museums to choose from
The views of Switzerland are brilliant and the snow-capped Alps are so stunning that visitors to this beautiful country are reluctant to spend too much time indoors.
Fine art lovers, however, will find many museums in Switzerland that offer an extraordinary array of indoor allure, from classic and contemporary art to stunning photographs.
Here are some of the best art museums Switzerland has to offer:
See the world through a creative lens at this museum. Founded in 1993, the Photography Center in Winterthur is dedicated to recording photography as an art form. Consisting of the Fotomuseum Winterthur and Fotostiftung Schweiz, the Center for Photography is among the finest art museums in Switzerland. The two independent institutions each have different goals in a jointly managed center: Fotostiftung Schweiz focuses on Swiss photography from its inception to the present with a special emphasis on Swiss photography from the 20th century. The Winterthur Museum of Photography examines contemporary photography in the context of individual work by renowned photographers.
This museum in Riehen / Basel is beautiful both inside and out. The aesthetically pleasing Beyeler Foundation building is set in an English landscaped garden featuring old trees, lotus ponds and pavilions overlooking the cornfields, vineyards and foothills of the Black Forest. Inside the museum, guests can enjoy 250 masterpieces of Hildy and Ernst Beyeler, perhaps best known as Europe’s leading modern art dealer.
The museum houses works of artists such as Marlene Dumas, a contemporary South African artist and painter; Gerhard Richter, a German visual artist who produces abstract and photorealistic paintings; and Ferdinand Hodler, one of the most famous Swiss painters of the 19th century. Presentations are accompanied by a reading calendar, lectures, and guided tours.
Located in Zurich, Kunsthaus Zurich houses some of the most important art collections in Switzerland. The collection spans from Middle Ages to contemporary art, with an emphasis on Swiss art and includes masterpieces of Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti along with a number of other Swiss artists. The leading representative of the Expressionist movement along with its meaningful Classical Modernism collection make this museum a must-visit for art lovers. With about 19,000 members, its patron association, the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, is one of the largest in Europe.
BASEL ART MUSEUM
Housing the largest and most significant collection of public art in Switzerland, the Kunstmuseum Basel was named the fifth best museum on the planet in 2013 by the London Times. The museum, which is made up of three buildings, is over 100,000 square feet.
The original museum, completed in 1936, contains art from the 15th to 1950s, including the largest collection of works by the Holbein family, a family of influential German artists in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Other works on display include paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Arnold Bocklin and Ferdinand Hodler from Switzerland.
In 1994, the Geneva museum of modern art opened in a 1950s factory building. Containing large windows, large rooms, and large floors, this museum offers spacious homes for various art collections.
Since opening, the museum has hosted 450 exhibitions with works from the 1960s to the present. The opening of MAMCO revives a cultural district in the Quartier des Bains neighborhood that is now full of galleries and trendy. One of the main events in the neighborhood is the Nuit des Bains (“bath night,” a name derived from the fact the public baths used to take place there), which are held three times a year. During this event, the arts precinct is transformed into a large gallery and attracts thousands of people every night.
MASI LUGANO – SWISS ITALY ARTS MUSEUM
Founded in 2015, MASI Lugano has become one of the most visited art museums in Switzerland. Born out of a union between the Cantonal Art Museum and the Art Museum of the City of Lugano, the merger brings together two institutes that have been working since 2012. In its two locations – in the LAC cultural center and Palazzo Reali – it offers a rich exhibition program with temporary exhibitions and collections. new. MASI is equipped with an artistic heritage of more than 14,000 works spanning historical periods from the late 15th century to the present.
The internationally renowned Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne is one of the world’s leading museums dedicated to photography. Founded in 1985, the museum aims to enhance the public’s understanding of photography through innovative exhibitions, major publications and exciting events.
The museum has the only collection of over a million phototypes including the collections of Charlie Chaplin, Ella Maillart, a Swiss adventurer and photographer, and Nicolas Bouvier, a Swiss traveler, writer and photographer. The museum building is very photogenic: an 18th century villa with views of Lake Geneva.
MUSEUM FOR ZURICH DESIGN
Switzerland’s leading museum of design and visual communications, Museum für Gestaltung Zurich contains a renowned collection of more than half a million objects from design history. Founded in 1875, the museum reaches a wide national and international audience at its two locations in Zurich and through tour exhibitions. It features four collections: Posters, Design, Graphics and Applied Art, covering more than 500,000 objects.
The museum’s recently renovated main building is located just a few minutes’ walk from Zurich’s main train station, and is a sublime example of modernist Swiss architecture. Swiss Design Lounge invites visitors to relax and enjoy contemporary Swiss furniture while sampling goods from the museum cafe.
Located right on the River Rhine, the Tinguely Museum in Basel is home to the world’s largest art collection by Jean Tinguely, a Swiss sculptor known for his moving mechanical sculptures. Tinguely (1925-1991) is considered one of the most innovative and important Swiss artists of the 20th century. Tinguely’s various kinetic art sculptures and interactive exhibits are on permanent display, complemented by illustrations, photographs and other documents relating to the artist’s life and work. Tinguely’s wife, Niki de Saint Phalle, has donated 55 sculptures to the museum, and special exhibits showcase the work of various artists and subjects including Marcel Duchamp, a French-American painter and sculptor whose work is related to Cubism and Dada; and Kurt Schwitters, a German artist who worked in several genres including Dadaism, Constructivism and Surrealism.
THE CENTER OF PAUL KLEE
Bern’s iconic Paul Klee Zentrum, which opened in 2005, is dedicated to the life and work of Paul Klee (1879-1940). With around 4,000 pieces, the museum has the most significant collection of paintings and drawings from Klee’s work. Born in Switzerland, Klee is considered to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His individual style was influenced by movements in art which included Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism. Designed by star Italian architect Renzo Piano and built on the outskirts of the capital, the museum’s three curved hills and gently contoured lines blend into the rolling landscape around it. Covered by extensive fields and gardens, the center provides an ideal area for walking.
By Jason Paha
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