Museums in Switzerland

Swiss National Museum

The Swiss National Museum is one of the most important art museums of cultural history in Europe. The museum building of 1898 in the historicist style was built by Gustav Gull in the form of the French Renaissance city chateaus. The impressive architecture with dozens of towers, courts and his astonishing park on a peninsula between the rivers Sihl and Limmat has become one of the main sights of the Old City ...
Founded: 1898 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Lausanne Historical Museum

Housed in the bishop’s palace, the oldest parts of which date back to the 11th century, Lausanne Historical Museum has since 1918 been telling the story of the city of Lausanne and the economic, social and urban changes it has experienced. In its permanent exhibition, it tells the story of Lausanne, from its prehistoric origins through to the economic, social and urban revolutions of the 19th century. The collections bo ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Basel Historical Museum

Opened in 1894, the Basel Historical Museum is one of the largest and most important museums of its kind in Switzerland. The museum is divided into four sections (buildings), three of which are within the city of Basel. These are Barfüsserkirche, Haus zum Kirschgarten and the Musikmuseum. The fourth section, the Coach and Carriage Museum lies slightly outside Basel, in the neighbouring town of Münchenstein. ...
Founded: 1894 | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Patek Philippe Museum

Patek Phillipe Museum is noble and prestigious private museum mapping the history of luxury watchmaking, since 16th century up to present. Huge collection of precious clocks and watches make the visit of museum artistic experience. Antoni Patek was Polish watchmaking pioneer, who settled in Switzerland in 1834, after career in millitary. Interested in art and trading, with good connections in Paris, he soon got into luxu ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Musée Rath

The Musée Rath is an art museum in Geneva, used exclusively for temporary exhibitions. It is the oldest purpose-built art museum in Switzerland. The museum was built between 1824 and 1826 by the architect Samuel Vaucher on behalf of the Société des arts. It was partly paid for with funds that General Simon Rath (1766–1819) had bequeathed to his sisters, Jeanne-Françoise and Henriette Rath, for such a purpose ...
Founded: 1824 | Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Museum of Art and History

The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire (Museum of Art and History) is the largest art museum in Geneva. It was built by the architect Marc Camoletti between 1903 and 1910, and financed by a bequest from the banker Charles Galland (1816–1901). The façade is decorated with sculptures by Paul Amlehn: an allegory of the arts, depicting painting, sculpture, drawing and architecture, is mounted on the triangular gable a ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Olympic Museum

The Olympic Museum (Musée olympique) in Lausanne houses permanent and temporary exhibits relating to sport and the Olympic movement. With more than 10,000 artifacts, the museum is the largest archive of Olympic Games in the world and one of Lausanne"s prime tourist site attracting more than 250,000 visitors each year. The Olympic Museum and the Olympic Park are located at Ouchy, south of Lausanne. The headqua ...
Founded: 1993 | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Bern Historical Museum

The Bern Historical Museum is the second largest historical museum in Switzerland. It was designed by the Neuchâtel architect André Lambert and built in 1894. Since it was initially conceived as the Swiss National Museum (which the city of Zurich was later chosen to host), the architect took as his model various historic castles from the 15th and 16th centuries. An extension to the original museum building was completed ...
Founded: 1894 | Location: Bern, Switzerland

Beyeler Foundation

The Beyeler Foundation owns and oversees the art collection of Hildy (1922-2008) and Ernst (1921-2010) Beyeler. In 1982 they commissioned Renzo Piano to design a museum to house their private collection. By building Renzo Piano's museum structure in 1997, the Beyeler Foundation made its collection permanently accessible to the public. The Beyeler Foundation presents 140 works of modern classics, including 23 Picasso ...
Founded: 1997 | Location: Riehen, Switzerland

Kunstmuseum Basel

The Kunstmuseum Basel houses the largest and most significant public art collection in Switzerland. The Kunstmuseum possesses the largest collection of works by the Holbein family. Further examples of Renaissance art include important pieces by such masters as Konrad Witz, Hans Baldung (called Grien), Martin Schongauer, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Mathias Grünewald. The main features of the 17th and 18 ...
Founded: 1931-1936 | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Pavillon Le Corbusier

The Pavillon Le Corbusier is a Swiss art museum dedicated to the work of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. In 1960 Heidi Weber had the vision to establish a museum designed by Le Corbusier – this building should exhibit his works of art in an ideal environment created by the architect himself in the then Centre Le Corbusier or Heidi Weber Museum. It is the last building designed by Le Corbusier marking a radic ...
Founded: 1967 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Jura Museum of Art and History

Founded in 1909 by Arthur Daucourt, Musée jurassien d"art et d"histoire exhibits the history of Jura canton. It has 21 permanent exhibition rooms presenting the history of Jura, primarily in its cultural aspects, but also social, political and economic.
Founded: 1909 | Location: Delémont, Switzerland

Musée Ariana

The Musée Ariana is devoted to ceramic and glass artwork, and contains 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 and is situated near the Palace of Nations. It was built to house the privat ...
Founded: 1877 | Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Rietberg Museum

The Rietberg Museum in Zürich displays Asian, African, American and Oceanian art. It is the only art museum of non-European cultures in Switzerland, the third-largest museum in Zürich, and the largest to be run by the city itself. The Rietberg Museum is situated in the Rieterpark in central Zürich, and consists of several historic buildings: the Wesendonck Villa, the Remise (or 'Depot'), the Rieter Park-V ...
Founded: 1952 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Museum of Art and History

Musée d"Art et d"Histoire is a museum of art and history is housed in Fribourg"s only Renaissance building, The Ratzé Palace. The collections housed here include paintings and statues from the 12th to 19th centuries as well as historical remains that depict political, religious, and business aspects of life in Fribourg during that period. There is also a former slaughterhouse that now contains paintings ...
Founded: 1774 | Location: Fribourg, Switzerland

Voltaire Museum

The Institut et Musée Voltaire is a museum in Geneva dedicated to the life and works of Voltaire. The museum is housed in Les Délices, which was Voltaire"s home from 1755 until 1760. The property was bought by the city of Geneva in 1929, and the museum opened in 1952, founded by Theodore Besterman. It contains about 25,000 volumes on Voltaire and the 18th century as well as a collection of paintings and ...
Founded: 1755 | Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Vindonissa Museum

Vindonissa Museum in Brugg is the only Roman museum in Switzerland, which specialises in the history of the Roman legions. At that time, the first attempts to read and write started in Switzerland, and the latest permanent exhibition invites visitors to learn more about the first 100 years of reading and writing in the Upper Rhine Region. 2,000 years ago, public and private news was written on Roman slates. Now they guide ...
Founded: 1912 | Location: Brugg, Switzerland

Laténium

The Laténium is a museum of Swiss archaeology as well as the history of man in the Lake Neuchâtel region. The museum covers history from the Ice Age to Renaissance period (around AD 1600). The larger exhibitions are on the Gallo-Romans, Celts, and Bronze Age. The Laténium museum has numerous interactive displays, which can entertain adults and children of all ages. A large park (free) between the museum and the shores ...
Founded: 2001 | Location: Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Museum of the Swiss Charters of Confederation

The Museum of the Swiss Charters of Confederation (Bundesbriefmuseum) was built in 1936 as a national shrine for the Federal Charter of 1291, which was believed to be the founding document of the Swiss Confederation. Today, the museum explains the national myth and the actual history of the Old Swiss Confederacy. It features a collection of original documents and flags. The overwhelming Spiritual national defence of ...
Founded: 1936 | Location: Schwyz, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.