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National Museum Zurich

National Museum Zurich


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The National Museum Zurich (Landesmuseum Zurich) displays over a million exhibits relating to Swiss history and culture. From ancient artefacts to medieval costume and modern furniture, the National Museum Zurich covers a diverse range of subjects and periods, from the prehistoric to present day.

Amongst other things at the National Museum Zurich, there’s an impressive display of Swiss handicrafts, a variety of historic religious items and weapons from the old Zurich Armoury.

Together with the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz, the National Museum Zurich forms part of the Swiss National Museum.

National Museum Zurich history

The discussion around creating a Swiss national museum began in 1883. Zurich was chosen as the site for the museum in 1891 over other options of Lucerne, Basel and Bern. Architect Gustav Gull drew on various historic architectural features from the late medieval period and the modern era resulting in a combination that is reminiscent of a fairytale castle.

The museum’s permanent displays include sections on Swiss history, furniture, interiors, weaponry, and a vast collection of art, crafts, fashion, and decorative items. Temporary exhibitions enhance the permanent collections to illustrate in more depth various elements of Swiss history and culture.

It is the largest collection documenting the cultural history of Switzerland including handicrafts, everyday objects, sculptures, and paintings from prehistory to the present day.

Although human settlements in Switzerland go back several millennia, the museum focuses on the history of Switzerland from the Roman era to the present. Special emphasis is given to the development and growth of Switzerland from the foundation of the Swiss Confederation at the end of the thirteenth century to the formal foundation of the Confœderatio Helvetica in 1848.

The Swiss National Museum is one of the most popular museums in Switzerland and a top sightseeing sight to see when visiting Zurich.

National Museum Zurich today

Today, the National Museum Zurich is regarded as an architectural monument of national importance.

The new building was designed by Swiss architects Christ & Gantenbein and opened in 2016 complementing Gustav Gull’s wing of the building. The new building provides facilities for large, flexible exhibition halls, a modern library and an auditorium for public events.

Getting to the National Museum Zurich

The site is easily accessible by public transport. Bus lines 31, 46, 751 and E pass by the museum. The nearest train station is Museumstrasse.


SWISS NATIONAL MUSEUM - ZURICH Landesmuseum in the Old Town Tower

It is expected that a country’s largest city will have a history museum, though in some, the building is as fascinating as what is inside its walls and halls. The Swiss National Museum in Zurich, the Landesmuseum (in German) is such an edifice. The museum building located directly next to the main train station was purpose built in the form of a castle in 1898 during a phase of civic refinement which swept across Europe in the age of the nation state of the 19th Century. The Swiss Confederation was founded rather late in the scheme of European nations, becoming a federal state in 1848. Each of the Swiss Cantons had their own history collections but the founding of a national museum began discussion in 1883 after a successful art exhibition in Zurich, winning out over Lucerne, Basel and the capital of Bern.

Designed by city architect Gustav Gull, it is an impressive structure of medieval towers and canon guarded courtyard with its own green park, set actually on an island between the Limmat and Sihl rivers where they join from the lake. It has been described as Neo-Gothic or neo-Renaissance, but is actually a collection of architectural styles joined together by Gustav, inspired by other castles around Switzerland, reminiscent of the true medieval castle of Thun (see Thun Castle Museum), and the Baroque Stockalper in Brig (see Stockalper Castle), right down to the Swiss Post Coach in the courtyard. It is certainly one of the first impressive sights of the Old City upon arrival in Zurich.

The Landesmusem in Zurich is one of three Swiss national museums and one of the most important collections of national cultural history in Europe. It underwent an extensive renovation in 2009 and plans for a further extension of the park lands plaza is in the works. The History of Switzerland is the central exhibit following the history of the Swiss region from prehistory through the Middle Ages up to the 20th Century, broken into four themes exploring Swiss migration and settlement, religious and intellectual history, political and economic development. You'll even find a wholly Mammoth in the early dawn of man section. The Collection Gallery focuses on the crafts and products of the Swiss culture.

Among the museum’s more memorable sights are the eleven paneled period rooms reconstructed at the museum their original location with entire rooms from Fraumünster Abbey and Oetenbach Monastery, a royal stateroom from the Palazzo Pestalozzi in Castelvetro, the parlour from the Rosenburg Haus in Stans, living room from Schloss Wiggen and a reconstituted monastic apothecary. The exhibition of Swiss Furniture and Interiors demonstrates the idea that people’s needs appear to have remained the same from the Middle Ages to present day apartment living with the furniture and space adapted to the prevailing technology.

The Swiss National Museum houses Switzerland’s largest collection of costumes and traditional clothing, seen in rooms of poised mannequins with rich garments from the 18th through the 21st century, with an important one-of-a-kind variety of linen embroidery and decorative textiles. The armory tower has a good collection of arms and armor from five hundred years of Swiss military history, based on the contents of the old Zurich Armory. The arms collection is grouped by themes ranging from such late middle-ages upper-body armor and jousting helmets from Schwyz, to Baroque ceremonial arms dress and Swiss Army uniforms of the 19th and 20th centuries. Also on display are exhibitions of Roman Gold Treasure and of the Goldsmiths Art. The view from the towers through lead panes offer an interesting kaleidoscopic view of the park plaza below.

Visiting the Swiss National Museum In Zurich

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and stays open to 7pm on Thursdays. Entrance admission is 10 CHF for adults, 8 CHF for seniors and students reduced, and free for children under 16. Entrance is free with a Swiss Museum Pass and Swiss Rail Pass (see Swiss Rail Pass Value) available for those coming from outside of Europe. With the museum just outside the Zurich Hauptbahnhof (through a tunnel to the north of the platforms) the Zurich National Museum is an easy sight to visit in Zurich for travelers with a brief stopover at Zurich Airport or for those traveling about Switzerland by rail. While in-country, the national railway has a discount rail and museum discount offer SBB Railway Offer. © Bargain Travel Europe

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After the National Museum opened over 120 years ago it quickly began drawing large numbers of visitors. A tour of the National Museum at the turn of the 20th must have been an impressive but, at the same time, taxing experience.

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Address & contact

Landesmuseum Zürich
Museumstrasse 2
P.O. Box
8021 Zurich
[email protected]

Swiss National Museum

Three museums – the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz – as well as the collections centre in Affoltern am Albis – are united under the umbrella of the Swiss National Museum (SNM).


In May 2019, the Swiss National Bank launched the new CHF 20 note. Anyone expecting to see William Tell or the Rütli Oath on it will be disappointed. The main element of the new note is light. Actually, the Rütli Oath has already featured on a banknote – albeit an American one.

Address & contact

Landesmuseum Zürich
Museumstrasse 2
P.O. Box
8021 Zurich
[email protected]

Swiss National Museum

Three museums – the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz – as well as the collections centre in Affoltern am Albis – are united under the umbrella of the Swiss National Museum (SNM).


ZURICH'S NATIONAL MUSEUM

Small countries like Switzerland rarely find a prominent place in American history textbooks. Even though I studied a fair amount of social studies in high school and was a history major in college, I don't recall learning much about Switzerland.

The National Museum opened a new chapter in my quest to be a lifelong learner. In retrospect, I wish my time onsite was not limited to less than two hours. Pressed for time, I stopped at exhibits that grabbed my attention. My sporadic connection to displays caused me to walk away with small nuggets of unrelated information. Fortunately, English signs were everywhere so I could grasp a few facts to put my visit into perspective.


Exterior of Museum

Weapons

Until I read the sign, I couldn't figure out whether the long poles were a sculpture or a display. The pikes and halberds were used by the Confederate foot soldiers and horsemen in the 16th-century.

Zurich Cityscape

The colorful city panorama was an eye-catcher. The piece gained more significance when I read about the painting's history. This Zurich cityscape originally depicted the martyrdom of the patron saints of Zurich. During the Iconoclasm, the picture was put into storage because images were considered idols. At a later date, the saints were painted over, and the painting's religious significance was lost.


Zurich Cityscape

Urban Bourgeoisie

• 17 Century Table Manners

The people seated at the table are arranged according to their age and gender. This oil on canvas illustrated bourgeois life in the 17th-century when affluent families arranged the marriages of their children within existing social circles.


Urban Bourgeoisie

• Strategic Marriage

Daughters were prepared for marriage at an early age. This portrait illustrates how young children were made to look like aristocratic adults.


Strategic Marriage

• Bourgeoisie Family

Families often posed for a painter. The parents are the focal point surrounded by their children. The extended family is in the background.


Family Portrait

Historical Scenes

This early 18th-century wool and silk tapestry depicts the 1663 signing of a mercenary alliance agreement with King Louis XIV at Notre Dame in Paris.


Wool and silk Tapestry depicting signing of agreement in Norte Dame in Parispeg

Cultured Conversations

At the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, affluent men and women met in salons. The corner armchairs offered opportunities for people to face one another while conversing.


Pair of Salon Arm chairs

Railway Construction

Before arriving in Zurich, I had traveled for about a week. Throughout my journey, I was fascinated by the preponderance of Swiss tunnels cutting through the mountains. The first Gotthard Railway tunnel was opened in 1882. Alfred Escher's financing policy funded the building project carried out by Italian workers. This innovation makes it possible for people to travel throughout Switzerland today.


Gotthard Railway Tunnel

Holocaust Exhibit

A handful of stories are retold at video kiosks highlighting the work done by a few relief organizations and individuals. Sometimes their actions ran contrary to Swiss policies. Carl Lutz is one notable example.


Carl Lutz, Vice Consul, handed out diplomatic documents to Jews in Budapestjpeg

Charlotte Kieslowicz was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust. Charlotte grew up in Vienna and escaped to France with her sister Sonja. In 1939, the sisters were part of a transport organized by Comite Israelit Pour Les Enfants. After the Germans captured Paris, Charlotte was forced to flee again. She eventually found refuge in Switzerland while Sonja was deported.


Charlotte's German Passport

Astounding Facts

Every now and then, I would come upon a sign causing me to pause. American history, in many respects, is different from European or Swiss history. Here are a few facts that stood out:

• "Around 40% of the population of the German Empire lost their lives in the Thirty Years' War. In addition to deaths on the battlefields, there were mercenaries roving around looting and murdering. Lives were threatened by hunger, disease, and epidemics."
• "The federal constitution came into force in 1848. It guaranteed equal rights, the separation of powers, and voting rights for men."
• "After international pressure, Jews were granted full equality in 1866. Citizenship was awarded by the municipalities."
• "The Swiss ambassador to Berlin, Hans Froilicher, ignored the persecution of the Jews for a long time, whereas Vice-Consul Carl Lutz in Budapest saved tens of thousands of Jews from deportation." (another sign stated 62,000 Jews)
• "Virtually all European countries granted women voting rights after the two world wars… Two-thirds of the male voters said 'no' in the first national referendum on women's suffrage in 1959… When the Federal Council moved to sign the European Convention on Human Rights without women's suffrage, feminists demonstrated in Bern. Women's suffrage was finally introduced in Switzerland in 1971."


Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.

Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.

Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.

The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.

During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.

The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.

From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.

The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.

Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.


Swiss National Museum / Christ & Gantenbein

Text description provided by the architects. The expansion to the National Museum Zurich, for which the opening celebration will take place in July 2016, complements the original museum building of 1898 designed by the architect Gustav Gull. The new wing is located on the side adjoining the Platzspitz Park. The old and new buildings are directly coupled to each other so as to form an architectural and urban ensemble. The historical and modern building elements successfully confront each other. The new building directly incorporates some of the context’s existing features into its architecture. The building’s layout accommodates the trees and paths of the historical park, and the characteristic roofscape of the old building sets the volumetric theme of the new structure. The expressive folds in the rooftops can be understood as a contemporary interpretation of Gull’s articulated Historicism. The new is thus inconceivable without the old, but is nonetheless unmistakably modern.

Architecturally the ensemble consists of two very different aspects: the graceful, historical old building designed in an open U shape and the sculptural character of the new wing that closes off the existing building complex thereby enabling continuous movement through both the old and new sections. The new wing includes flexible exhibition spaces, a library and a spacious auditorium for public events. The central motif of the new building is the bridge. It spans across a wide space featuring a water basin (landscaping will be completed in May) that connects the new inner courtyard with the park. The prominent bridge carries over into the interior in the form of a monumental set of stairs leading to the largest exhibition area and as a tribune in the auditorium.

As different as the new and old buildings are, their similarities and shared architectural attributes are abundantly apparent and serve to create a unity of old and new. The strong stone walls of the old 19th-century building are echoed in the new wing’s 80-centimeter thick walls, which fulfil the high thermal insulation requirements of the Minergie-P Eco standard. The tuff concrete developed especially for use in the new wing corresponds to the tuff facade of the old building, and the polished concrete floors in the new wing suggest a modern interpretation of the decorative terrazzo floors in the old building.

Concrete dominates in the interior of the new museum. Combined with the technical elements purposely left exposed on the ceilings, this creates an almost industrial-like atmosphere that is robust, spacious and open to a variety of forms of exhibition and presentation. The new spaces at the National Museum Zurich are conceived as museum factory halls – conservational and at the same time experimental.

The construction phase for the new wing also included conversion measures (earthquake and fire safety) and extensive refurbishing of a large section of the old building according to national heritage criteria. The main entrance to the museum was moved to the spot where the old museum wing meets the wing on the Limmat River side, which originally housed the school of fine arts. Along with the new entrance, the entire visitor’s infrastructure, including the foyer, cloak rooms, shop and restaurant, was remodelled. During the summer, the restaurant and bar will offer open-air dining facilities on the newly designed museum plaza, adding a new dimension and vitality to this central urban location, just opposite the main station. A modern study centre open to the public is now located on the upper levels of the historical Limmat River wing, and the museum’s administration is situated on the top floor of the old museum building.

The final phase in the structural refurbishment of the National Museum Zurich is yet to come, however. From 2017 to 2020 the historical west wing and the tower will undergo refurbishing. In 2020 the museum will once again be available to the public in its entirety, thus initiating a new chapter in the museum presentation of Switzerland’s history.


Plan Your Visit

Welcome back to the National Museum of American History! The museum has taken preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. You will notice changes to how you visit the museum, such as requiring each visitor to reserve a free timed-entry pass and to follow the safety requirements listed below.

The National Museum of American History’s world class collection of over 1.7 million objects helps tell the complex history of our nation. To create a safe environment for our visitors, some parts of the museum will not be available during your visit. See information below or view the museum map.

Hours

Open Friday through Tuesday, except December 25, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (with last entry at 3:00 p.m.).

Free timed-entry passes are required for admission. Visitors can reserve passes up to 30 days in advance. We release a limited number of same-day passes daily online at 8:15 a.m.

Location

The museum is located on the National Mall at Constitution Avenue, N.W., between 12th and 14th Streets, Washington, D.C. View in Google maps.

Museum entry is only available through the Constitution Avenue entrance on the first floor. See museum map.

Visitor Requirements

Maintain a safe social distance

Wash hands, sanitize and practice good hygiene

Before You Visit:

  • Get a free timed-entry pass and make sure it’s printed out or available on your phone.
  • Groups larger than six (6) will not be permitted on Smithsonian Institution property. While on Smithsonian property, groups will maintain at least 6 feet (2 meters) of distance between themselves and individuals outside their group. Read our special guidelines for group visits for more information.
  • Pack your face covering. Face coverings are required for all visitors ages two and older. The face covering should cover the nose and mouth and must not have an exhalation valve.
  • Print the museum map.
  • Prepare for security screening to enter the building by minimizing bags and reviewing the list of prohibited items.

While You’re Here:

  • Wear a face covering. Visitors ages two and older are required to wear a face covering in all indoor spaces. Fully vaccinated visitors are not required to wear a face covering outdoors. Face coverings may be removed while eating or drinking in designated spaces. Face coverings should fit properly, covering the nose, mouth, and chin with no large gaps on the outside of the face, and they should have at least two layers. Face shields are not permitted as a substitute for a face covering but may be worn over a face covering or mask. Face coverings or masks with an exhalation valve are not permitted.
  • Practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet (2 meters) from visitors outside your party.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. Free hand sanitizer is available throughout the museum.
  • If you need help during your visit, speak to a staff member near the entrance.

We ask that all visitors, including those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, follow these safety measures to protect everyone’s health. Visitors who do not adhere to safety policies and guidelines may be asked to leave.

When You Leave:

For additional information, see:

What's Available During Your Visit

Please note: Due to construction, the following exhibitions will be closed for approximately three weeks starting in early July. Dates are subject to change please check this page for updates.

- America on the Move
- On the Water
- FOOD: Transforming the American Table (including Julia Child’s Kitchen)
- Lighting a Revolution
- Power Machinery

PARTIALLY OPEN

COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that is believed to mainly spread from person-to-person contact. The Smithsonian is doing its part to mitigate transmission intensity, and we ask you, our visitors, to do the same and help us reduce the spread of COVID-19. You must follow all posted instructions while visiting the Smithsonian, including instructions about wearing face coverings and social distancing. Despite these measures, the risk of contracting COVID-19 could increase by visiting the Smithsonian. By visiting the Smithsonian, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.

The Smithsonian reserves the right to modify its hours of operations, capacity, or visitor guidelines as circumstances require and to deny entry or access to any person who fails to follow these guidelines or whose conduct puts Smithsonian staff, visitors, or property at risk.


SWISS NATIONAL HISTORY MUSEUM

Designed by city architect Gustav Gull, the Swiss National Museum in Zurich (Landesmuseum) it is an impressive structure of revival medieval towers and a canon guarded courtyard with its own green park. The museum building is located directly next to the Hauptbahnhof train station, accessed by a tunnel from the platforms. The museum was built in the form of a castle in 1898, during era of historic revival of the 19th Century. Each of the Swiss Cantons had their own history collections but the national museum was established in Zurich after a successful art exhibit in 1883. The museum is actually on an island formed by the Limmat and Sihl rivers and is one of the first impressive sights of the Old City arriving by train in Zurich.

The History of Switzerland is the main exhibit, following the development of the Swiss region from prehistory through Medieval ages, up to the 20th Century, Separated into four themes of Swiss migration and settlement, religious and intellectual history, political and economic development. There’s even a woolly Mammoth in the “dawn of man” section. The Collection Gallery features crafts and products of the Swiss culture.

Among the museum’s more impressive exhibits are eleven wood paneled period rooms reconstructed from their original locations at the former Fraumünster Abbey and Oetenbach Monastery, a royal stateroom from the Palazzo Pestalozzi in Castelvetro, the parlor from the Rosenburg Haus in Stans, and livingroom from Schloss Wiggen, as well as a monastery apothecary. The museum holds Switzerland’s largest collection of costumes and traditional clothing, seen within rooms of posed mannequins wearing rich garments from the 18th through the 21st century. The exhibition of Swiss Furniture and Interiors demonstrates that people’s needs appear to have remained the same from the Middle-Ages to present day, with the furnishings and space adapted to technology.

The Zurich National History Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and stays open to 7pm on Thursdays. Entrance admission is 10 CHF for adults, 8 CHF for seniors and students, and free for children under 16. Entrance is free with a Swiss Museum Pass and Swiss Pass.


The FIFA World Football Museum presents a new selection of stories on the topic of refereeing. Twenty intimate showcases explore a selection of interesting facts about the duties of match officials and notable moments from refereeing history.

Quick Links

Opening times and Tickets

Get more information on our opening hours, and information on booking a ticket.

Getting here

Located in central Zurich, the museum is easily accessible by public transport. Use our tool to plan your trip.

Groups and Parties

Discover the various guided tours and children’s parties packages on offer at the museum.


Watch the video: Χαϊλίγκενμπλουτ: Το παραμυθένιο χωριό των Άλπεων (July 2022).


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