With its many different architectural elements of style, the large castellated
building of the Swiss National Museum is a fascinating reflection on the country's
It is home to the most extensive collection with reference to Swiss
cultural history: Pre-history, the Celts and Romans, Middle Ages (Gothic
art, religious statues) cultural history tours, national costume, historical
A prominent section is devoted to pre-history and the early historical
period, in particular the New Stone Age, including finds of wheels actually
found in Zurich which are among the earliest ever found, and Celtic finds
and objects from the Early Middle Ages. Emphasis also falls on the medieval
collection with important witnesses of knightly culture and a comprehensive
collection of liturgical wooden sculptures, panel paintings and carved
altars. Especially famous is Hodler"s monumental fresco "Retreat
of the Confederates at Marignano" in the armory.
How to get there :
The museum is located directly behind the Main Train Station.
(streetcar) 4,11,13,14 up to "Hauptbahnhof" (Main Train
Station).Tram 6,7 And Bus 31 up to "Bahnhofstrasse.
This museum offers an epic survey of the culture and history of the Swiss
people. Its collection, housed in a feudal-looking, 19th-century building
behind the Zurich Hauptbahnhof, contains works of religious art, including
16th-century stained glass from Tanikon Convent and frescoes from the church
of Mustair. Some of the Carolingian art dates from the 9th century. The
altarpieces are carved, painted, and gilded.
The prehistoric section is also exceptional. Some of the artifacts are from
the 4th millennium B.C. There's a large display of Roman clothing, medieval
silverware, 14th-century drinking bowls, and 17th-century china, as well as
painted furniture, costumes, and dollhouses of various periods. A display of
weapons and armor shows the methods of Swiss warfare from 800 to 1800.
There's also an exhibit tracing Swiss clock making from the 16th to the 18th
Special exhibitions are presented twice annually, lasting between 3 and 6
months. Themes are always different; a recent one was devoted to Swiss
At first sight, the Swiss National Museum (next to the main station of
Zurich) appears to be a fairy castle or a fortress. The tower, copied from
the town gate of Baden, has become a symbol of the city and can be seen from
far away. The museum building of 1898 in the historicist style accommodates
probably the largest collection in Switzerland devoted to cultural history.
In the rambling rooms and corridors of the building visitors can experience
fascinating and unexpected views of Swiss cultural history.
What it's like :
||Swiss National Museum
||Museum Strasse 2 CH-8023
|Type of Museum :
The Swiss National Museum is actually made up of eight museums spread
around the country but the main museum in Zurich is the parent of the group.
This is situated in an imposing castle-like building behind the main central
railway station. It was officially opened in 1898 and contains an extensive
collection of objects that were either produced or used in regions belonging
to today's Switzerland.
The museum covers the period from the Stone Age through the Roman period to
present times. In the rambling rooms and corridors of the building there is
the work of goldsmith and silversmiths, textiles, coins, watches and clocks,
furniture and interiors, paintings and sculptures. Of particular interest is
the collection of arms and armor, with Swiss-made weapons from medieval
times, including impressive crossbows and swords. Also impressive is the
series of rooms containing religious objects including gilded altarpieces
and 15th century stained glass windows. I happily spent a couple of hours
just wandering around but if you had a particular interest in one aspect of
the collection you could stay much longer. There are tours available.
There is a cafeteria which operates indoors most of the year but outdoors in
the courtyard in summer. It is operated by the Zurich Women's Association.
Drinks and hot and cold food is available at reasonable prices. In the midst
of the exhibition on tourism and the souvenir industry, the museum has
developed a function room called Salon Rouge with its own Steinway grand
piano. If you have the chance to attend a function there, don't miss it.
The museum opens Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30am-5pm. Admission charge is
CHF5 for adults, free for children.
There are two other outlets of the National Museum in Zurich. One is the
Museum Barengasse, which showcases the everyday life of Zurich people from
1730 to 1800. The ground floor houses the Sasha Morgenthaler Museum. The
other is the Guildhall at Munsterhof 20. The two guildhalls and the balcony
between them are embellished with rich stuccos and are startlingly
beautiful. The building contains an exhibition of pottery and faience table
settings in the 18th century.