Museums in Zurich
12 Freigutstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland
043 277 56 29
Museums in Zurich Reviews
Jul 11, 2007
Zurich's Kunsthaus (Museum of Fine Arts) holds a nice array of paintings and a some sculptures from the past 500 years, with about half of the permanent collection from the 19th and 20th centuries, and the other half from before that. I paid 8 CHF with my student card (though apparently the museum is free on Sundays) to see the permanent collection. I didn't make it to the special exhibit since I arrived two hours before the museum closed -- which, compared to most other museums in Zurich, is 9 pm on Tues-Thurs. I didn't use the audio guide, and I just walked through all the rooms -- in a little less than two hours. Granted, I don't stare and admire the pictures for lengthy periods of time, but there was definitely some really nice works to see. The text on the walls is only in German, and they aren't written for every piece. None of the descriptions tell you what kind of materials the artist used, either. But I was happy seeing a few paintings by Manet, Munch, and there are a lot by Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler. His landscapes from the turn of the century until his death are much better than his stuff from the late 1800s. I'm still a bit perplexed about the floor plan they hand out -- I swear, every time i thought I was in one box based on where I was walking, the rooms contained artists listed in other rooms. I eventually gave up trying to follow the floor plan, but I'm pretty sure I saw everything. I think what's most interesting is that the decor in the rooms tries to match the type of art in there. For the oldest stuff, mauve walls and grey carpets. When it gets to a bit later italian work, there is fake marble in the rooms. The modern art is all in brightly lit rooms white rooms with funky lights. Watching the decor change might have been more exciting than the artwork. But at least it goes well!
The Museum für Gestaltng (Museum of Design) can have some really cool exhibits. It's right next to the school of design in Zurich, just north of the train station. I saw the On Time exhibit, about the changing nature of time-keeping. There was some pretty interesting items included within the exhibit, and definitely a lot of Swatches (this *is* Switzerland after all). Usually there are two exhibits at a time -- in the Halle and the Gallerie. However, one of the exhibits closed just over a week before I visited, so I paid the 5 CHF (student price) only to see one exhibit -- in what I presume is the smaller room. It definitely took me under an hour to see the one exhibit.
Affiliated with the Museum fur Gestaltung is the Plakatraum, the Poster Museum, about a block away. And by "Poster room" they really do mean a room with posters. It's free, and only open in the afternoons. They seem to have had some really cool exhibits in the past, especially when they put on posters from the 1920s or 1930s. There actually is some office building or something near the Fraumunster that has old posters from the 1930s from the Museum/Plakatraum in its windows, but none of those were on display when I visited the Plakatraum. It was a collection of 1980s concert posters. Some were cool. All in all, you only need about 10 minutes for the Plakatraum.
The Schweizerisches Landesmuseum is the Swiss National Museum. It's in a really cool building just across the street on the north side from the main train station. It's under construction, but when the additions are done it'll make the museum even better. I suspect that there will be more recent stuff, as there was a dearth of it (save the temporary exhibits). Then again, maybe Swiss history (or, swisstory, as I like to call it) really only encompasses around 1400 to 1848. Apparently the Swiss really cared about the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. While I may be an historian, I most definitely only focus on the modern. It would have been handy to have one of the early modernists around for the museum. The pre-history part of the museum was pretty unexciting -- mostly random crap dug up from the ground. Nothing exciting was dug up in Switzerland, the way that other places have cool Roman or Greek stuff, or even the old Viking ships in Norway. The fake woolly mammoth was pretty cool, though. I got my picture taken with him. Of the three temporary exhibits, the photographs of Zurich from 1850-2000 were really cool. Especially when they found old photos of a block or intersection from well over 100 years ago, and then someone took a photo of that place today. Sometimes the building are exactly the same -- which is super cool. The exhibit on Swiss immigration to the US basically focused on people who made it -- or the kids of Swiss immigrants -- in the US, and the occasional failure. This was at Ellis Island recently, but then there is an extra part about immigrants from Ticino -- which is perhaps the only part that was a more general immigration story.
Part of the The Life of a PhD Student travel blog
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