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Today

closed

Opening times

Museum, boutique and bistro

  • openinghours.days.long.tuesday Open till openinghours.days.long.wednesday openinghours.openfromto.long

  • openinghours.days.long.thursday openinghours.openfromto.long

  • openinghours.days.long.friday Open till openinghours.days.long.sunday openinghours.openfromto.long

Library

  • openinghours.days.long.tuesday Open till openinghours.days.long.wednesday openinghours.and openinghours.days.long.friday openinghours.openfromto.long

  • openinghours.days.long.thursday openinghours.openfromto.long

  • openinghours.days.long.saturday Open till openinghours.days.long.monday closed

Special opening times

  • Labour Day 01.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Ascension Day 09.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Whitsun 19.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Whit Monday 20.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • International Museum Day 26.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Swiss National Holiday 01.08.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Long Night of the Museums 07.09.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Long Night of the Museums 08.09.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Knabenschiessen 09.09.2024 closed

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Today

closed

Opening times

Museum, boutique and bistro

  • openinghours.days.long.tuesday Open till openinghours.days.long.wednesday openinghours.openfromto.long

  • openinghours.days.long.thursday openinghours.openfromto.long

  • openinghours.days.long.friday Open till openinghours.days.long.sunday openinghours.openfromto.long

Library

  • openinghours.days.long.tuesday Open till openinghours.days.long.wednesday openinghours.and openinghours.days.long.friday openinghours.openfromto.long

  • openinghours.days.long.thursday openinghours.openfromto.long

  • openinghours.days.long.saturday Open till openinghours.days.long.monday closed

Special opening times

  • Labour Day 01.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Ascension Day 09.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Whitsun 19.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Whit Monday 20.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • International Museum Day 26.05.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Swiss National Holiday 01.08.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Long Night of the Museums 07.09.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Long Night of the Museums 08.09.2024 openinghours.openfromto.long

  • Knabenschiessen 09.09.2024 closed

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History of the National Museum

The 19th century is generally regarded as the century of nations and nation states. While other countries were busily erecting memorials, monuments and institutions, though, the young federal state of Switzerland was struggling with the idea of setting up a national museum. Plans to create one met with widespread scepticism, and there were also entirely pragmatic reasons for rejecting the enterprise. Almost every one of the cantons had its own collections, reflecting the federal character of the young state. However, encouraged by the popularity of the national art exhibition organised as part of the Swiss national exhibition in Zurich, in 1883 National Council member Salomon Vögelin of Zurich launched the discussion on the founding of a national museum.

After much wrangling over the proposed site of the Swiss National Museum, Zurich finally won through in 1891, seeing off its rivals Lucerne, Basel and Bern. The young architect Gustav Gull drew on various historicising architectural features from the late medieval period and the modern era, combining them to create a single whole. The design of the Swiss National Museum was intended to express a unity between collection, exhibition and architecture. It was also combined with a school of art, thereby satisfying a further important requirement of the era: having both institutions side by side, allowing the past to act as an example and an inspiration for the work of students. Today, the National Museum Zurich is regarded as one of the outstanding 19th-century constructions of its type, and an architectural monument of national importance.

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

Exhibition archive

Blog article on the history of the National Museum

Art in Architecture

In 2016, the façade areas and recesses of the railway station wing, which had remained empty since the National Museum was opened in 1898, were finally decorated with new pieces of art. In his work ‘Die Verletzten schreien aus vollem Hals: Es lebe die Schweiz’ (The wounded shout at the top of their voice: Long live Switzerland), known for short as DVSAVHELDS, Winterthur-based artist Mario Sala combines rocks and layered stone strata. The work is a conceptual reference to the Museum’s stone façades and the idea of the mosaic.

© Studio Willen

Mario Sala. DVSAVHELDS, 2016 Feld 1
© Studio Willen