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

Sa, 9/4/2021 18:00 - 0:00, Zurich's long night of museums

Su, 9/5/2021 0:00 - 2:00, Zurich's long night of museums

Mo, 9/13/2021 closed, Knabenschiessen

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

Sa, 9/4/2021 18:00 - 0:00, Zurich's long night of museums

Su, 9/5/2021 0:00 - 2:00, Zurich's long night of museums

Mo, 9/13/2021 closed, Knabenschiessen

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

Colours revealed by light. Stained glass from the 13th to the 21st century

National Museum Zurich | 16.7.2021 - 3.4.2022
published on 15.7.2021

The vast array of subjects and the dazzling luminosity of stained glass have captivated viewers for centuries. The exhibition in the National Museum’s Hall of Fame showcases Swiss stained glasswork in all its richly hued facets, from its origins in the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the modern stained glass art of the present day.

The Swiss National Museum owns one of the world’s largest collections of stained glass works. The highlights of this collection form the starting point for a journey through the history of Swiss stained glass. Our journey begins in churches and monasteries, where the light streaming through the coloured windows into the hallowed interiors probably had much the same impact on churchgoers in the Middle Ages as it has today. The exhibition features works such as the ‘Madonna of Flums’ dating from the 13th century – the oldest surviving figural stained glass panel in Switzerland.

In the modern era, it became common practice in the Confederation, when a new building was constructed or an existing one refurbished, for benefactors to bear the costs for the design and manufacture of a window. In return, these sponsors were given the opportunity to have their coat of arms placed in the new window. The representatives of Confederate towns also put their coats of arms in the windows of council buildings, taverns and monasteries, giving expression for the first time to a ‘Swiss’ national consciousness. In the 19th century, the modern federal state reverted to this tradition of the Standesscheibe, stained glass that presented the coat of arms of a canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy, and donated the stained glass works in the Hall of Fame of the newly built National Museum (1898) and those in the domed hall of the parliament building (1901).

In the 20th century too, a number of town halls in major Swiss cities were presented with Standesscheiben, and stained glass is still a highly regarded art form today. One example is the glass windows in the Grossmünster in Zurich. In addition to the Augusto Giacometti stained glass panels in the chancel dating from 1933, the stained glass works by Sigmar Polke in the nave were added in 2009. To make them, the artist used a number of newly developed techniques. The exhibition displays the specimen glass panels made to Sigmar Polke’s designs.

The essential working process for manufacturing stained glass has changed very little over the centuries. Myriad individual production steps are required to progress from the design stage through the selection and cutting of the coloured glass, to produce the finished glass artwork soldered with lead rods. In addition to more than 90 stained glass works dating from the Middle Ages to the present day, the exhibition also shows old tools from the Halter stained glass studio in Bern. Soldering irons, lead mouldings and a portable furnace give an insight into the elaborate technique of this craft.

Images

Vierge de Flums

The chapel is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint James. The image of the patron saint was located in the window of the choir, the most important place in the chapel. Church window, around 1200, origin: Chapel of St. Jakob, Gräpplang near Flums, painted coloured glass

Swiss National Museum

Heraldic panel

A sailing ship loaded with passengers and barrels is bound for the city depicted on the left of the panel. The coats of arms of the donors appear on either side of the sail. The marks on the oars correspond to symbols in the coats of arms. Heraldic panel, Hans Caspar Gallati (1633–1699), 1679, painted coloured glass

Swiss National Museum

Welcome panel

A halberdier in mi-parti and an elegantly dressed lady with a bag and a cutlery case on a cord support the coat of arms of Peter Mutarda. Heraldic panel, around 1554, origin: Council Hall of the Town Hall in Le Landeron, painted coloured glass

Swiss National Museum

Welcome panel

With her right hand, Magdalena Gmünder passes a large golden goblet to her husband, Lorenz Vonwiler, while holding the lid in her other hand. She is wearing a fashionable robe with a black jacket, pleated skirt and white apron. Roundel, 1633, single pane of painted colourless glass

Swiss National Museum

Canton panel of Berne

A lion and a bear hold a large crown above the cantonal coat of arms of Berne. The lion – the heraldic animal of the Dukes of Zähringen – holds the calvary standard of the city founders, while the bear holds the banner of Berne. Canton panel of Berne, Hans Jakob Güder (around 1631–1691), 1675, origin: Church of Othmarsingen, painted coloured glass

Swiss National Museum

William Tell

William Tell stands with his crossbow in one hand and an arrow held high in the other. The landscape in the background includes high mountains and the Lake of Uri. Above Tell’s head hangs his coat of arms with the pierced apple. Picture window, Karl Wehrli (1843–1902), around 1880, painted coloured glass

Swiss National Museum

Little Meret

Ernst Rinderspacher’s subject here is ‘Little Meret’, a character from Gottfried Keller’s novel “Green Henry”. Keller, in turn, found his inspiration for the character in a child’s portrait from the early 17th century. Figurative panel, Ernst Rinderspacher (1879–1949), around 1920, grisaille and silver stain on blue flashed glass

Swiss National Museum

Test glass panel

Test glass panel prepared in connection with the Ascension of Elijah window in the Grossmünster church in Zurich, design: Sigmar Polke (1941–2010), realization: Urs Rickenbach (born 1957), Glas Mäder AG, around 2006–2009, Zurich, fusing glass On loan from Glas Mäder & Co. AG, Rüschlikon

© The Estate of Sigmar Polke, Anna Polke-Stiftung, Grossmünster Zurich, Glas Mäder & Co. AG

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

Swiss National Museum press contact

+41 44 218 66 63 medien@nationalmuseum.ch

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