Opening times

Museum, boutique and bistro

Tu – We 10:00 - 17:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Fr – Su 10:00 - 17:00

Library

Tu – We, Fr 10:00 - 18:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Sa – Mo closed

Special opening times

Tu, 12/21/2021 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/22/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/23/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Fr, 12/24/2021 10:00 - 14:00, Christmas Eve

Sa, 12/25/2021 10:00 - 17:00, Christmas

Su, 12/26/2021 10:00 - 17:00, St. Stephen´s Day

Mo, 12/27/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Tu, 12/28/2021 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/29/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/30/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Fr, 12/31/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Sa, 1/1/2022 10:00 - 17:00, New Year´s Day

Su, 1/2/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Saint Berchtold

Fr, 4/15/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Good Friday

Su, 4/17/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Easter

Mo, 4/18/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Easter Monday

Mo, 4/25/2022 closed, Sechseläuten

Su, 5/1/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Labour Day

Th, 5/26/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Ascension Day

Su, 6/5/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Whitsun

Mo, 6/6/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Whit Monday

Show all

Opening times

Museum, boutique and bistro

Tu – We 10:00 - 17:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Fr – Su 10:00 - 17:00

Library

Tu – We, Fr 10:00 - 18:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Sa – Mo closed

Special opening times

Tu, 12/21/2021 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/22/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/23/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Fr, 12/24/2021 10:00 - 14:00, Christmas Eve

Sa, 12/25/2021 10:00 - 17:00, Christmas

Su, 12/26/2021 10:00 - 17:00, St. Stephen´s Day

Mo, 12/27/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Tu, 12/28/2021 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/29/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/30/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Fr, 12/31/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Sa, 1/1/2022 10:00 - 17:00, New Year´s Day

Su, 1/2/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Saint Berchtold

Fr, 4/15/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Good Friday

Su, 4/17/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Easter

Mo, 4/18/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Easter Monday

Mo, 4/25/2022 closed, Sechseläuten

Su, 5/1/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Labour Day

Th, 5/26/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Ascension Day

Su, 6/5/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Whitsun

Mo, 6/6/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Whit Monday

Show all

Bed stories

National Museum Zurich | 3.12.2020 - 24.5.2021
published on 30.11.2020

We spend more time with our bed than with any other piece of furniture. The Swiss National Museum in Zurich presents four centuries of bedtime stories.

We spend a third of our life in bed. No furniture item is dearer to us. In bed we are born, and there we die. It’s where we make love, or recover from illness. Most of the time we sleep on this piece of furniture, but sometimes we simply lie there lost in our thoughts, listening to music or reading. Nowadays, the beds in our bedrooms are considered deeply personal places. When we have guests, the bedroom is usually off-limits. This hasn’t always been the case. In the 17th century, the French King Louis XIV used the bedroom as a stage for his demonstrations of power. In the mornings the Sun King rose and shone before a selected audience, and when he settled down to sleep at night that too was a public act. Many European rulers copied the customs of the French court, and the bedroom soon became a status symbol. And the Swiss Confederation was no different.

As the 19th century progressed, the bedroom lost its public character and became more of a private space. A growing awareness of hygiene also began to change people’s relationship with sleep. Bugs and nasty smells – accepted for centuries as a necessary evil – were now investigated and steps taken to eliminate them. Single beds replaced joint sleeping places shared by several people, wood was superseded by metal as the base material, and grandeur gave way to functionality. At the same time, the boundaries of modesty were raised. Increasingly, people no longer slept in groups, but alone and specially robed.

The exhibition ‘Bedtime Stories’ at the National Museum Zurich takes visitors on a tour of the bedrooms of Swiss society’s upper echelons. From the 17th to the 20th centuries, a lot has changed.

Images

Four-poster bed from Bürglen Castle TG from 1691

In noble households, the bedroom also serves as a prestigious reception room. This richly carved state bed is that of the master of the house, the St. Gallen bailiff Lorenz Werder.

Swiss National Museum

Four-poster bed from Zurich, 1700-1735

The sculptural carved furniture of the 17th century is superseded by pieces faced with precious polished veneers. At the beginning of the 18th century, furniture with undulating surfaces – so-called Wellenmöbel (‘wave furniture’) – is typical in Zurich.

Swiss National Museum

Marriage bed from 1767

The bride brings to the marriage the double bed and the linen cupboard. This bed is lavishly painted in a local folk art style that incorporates verses of Scripture and other inscriptions.

Swiss National Museum

Wedding cabinet from 1782

The inscription states that the cabinet was made for the marriage of Catharina Müller and Mathias Hörler in 1782. The painted Rocaille decoration is evocative of the Rococo period; the figurative representations depict the legend of William Tell.

Swiss National Museum

Commode, 1775-1800

A chair-like construction conceals the chamber pot. For a long time, the mobile toilet is a night-time alternative to the hygienic water closet, which is connected to the sewer system.

Swiss National Museum

Single bed from 1830

This narrow bed in the form of a ship is typical of the early 19th century. It is intended for one person. Two identical beds can be pushed together to create a double bed.

Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

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