Key visual of the exhibition "With the flying carpet through history".

A magic carpet ride through history



Many children dream of travelling back in time. They can do just that at the family exhibition ‘A magic carpet ride through history’ at the National Museum Zurich. The exhibition features three areas with fun and hands-on experiences to teach kids about the Islamic Golden Age, explorers’ ships, and the advent of rail travel. The youngsters can visit a magnificent Arabian palace, board a sailing ship or step inside an old railway carriage, and travel back in time to key periods from history.

The exhibition combines learning with age-appropriate activities, such as solving puzzles, searching for hidden treasures, listening to stories, dressing up, and drawing.

The atmospheric settings allow children to let their imaginations run wild, and the high-quality original objects bear witness to important events in global cultural history.

For families with children from age 4 upwards.

A palace of knowledge

Long ago, a great deal of knowledge came to Europe from the Arab-Islamic world, thanks to which important advances were made in fields such as astronomy, medicine, music, literature and architecture.

View of the Family Exhibition in the National Museum Zurich.

Aboard a sailing ship

Improvements in ship engineering allowed seafarers to sail to undiscovered parts of the world from the 15th century onwards. The voyages were dangerous as the valuable cargo meant they could be attacked by pirates at any time.

View of the Family Exhibition in the National Museum Zurich.

In a train carriage

Switzerland’s first railway line, the ‘Spanisch-Brötli-Bahn’, or Swiss Northern Railway, ran between Zurich and Baden in 1847, and from 1870, railway tracks connected many towns and cities. The railway was a symbol of modernity and progress, and allowed rapid economic growth.

View of the Family Exhibition in the National Museum Zurich.

Globi’s sword

The book Globi im Museum (‘Globi at the Museum’) was published in 2024. In it, the popular children’s character unravels a mystery surrounding an ancient sword with the help of some experts from the Museum. And because the history of this ancient weapon is pretty awesome, the sword was handed over to the Museum at the end – not only in the book, but also in real life, and is displayed in the family exhibition as a permanent loan from Globi.

Showcase in the National Museum Zurich with the replica of Globi's sword.

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A Magic Carpet ride through history

National Museum Zurich
published on 24.10.2019

A new family exhibition at the National Museum Zurich invites you to join us on a journey through time. Spread over three themed rooms, the exhibition allows visitors to step back into the past.

Many children dream of travelling back in time. In the new permanent exhibition ‘A Magic Carpet ride through history’, we make this dream come true! Spread over three separate spaces, visitors can explore the topics ‘Orient’, ‘Seafaring’ and ‘Railways’, with plenty of hands-on fun. In an Arabian palace, on the deck of a large sailing ship and in a vintage railway carriage, young Museum visitors can really get a feel for these momentous eras in global history.

From the early Middle Ages onwards, the Orient had an immense influence on the western world. Trade routes brought valuable knowledge to Europe, and this new information was quickly dispersed throughout the region and beyond. For instance, the Arab numerical system left its mark on schooling and business, while the medical field benefitted from significant discoveries and inventions. In the 15th century, Europeans sailed into unknown waters. New shipbuilding techniques made it possible to undertake long voyages on the high seas. The masters of maritime navigation were at home in Portugal and Spain, and it was from these countries that the exotic products the seafarers brought back to their homeland found their way to every corner of the globe. The invention of the railway in the 19th century meant people and goods could be transported much faster, and brought the big, wide world within reach. The railway accelerated industrialisation, boosted tourism and, with its bridges and tunnels, dramatically altered the landscape of Switzerland.

The family exhibition ‘A Magic Carpet ride through history’ combines learning with activities designed specially for children. The exquisitely designed backdrop provides space for imaginations to run free at the Museum, and the beautiful original objects are important witnesses to these epochs in the cultural history of our world.


On board the caravel, seafarers go on a voyage of discovery and get a glimpse of distant shores.

Swiss National Museum

In the Arabian palace, children hear stories from the 1001 Nights.

Swiss National Museum

In the recreated railway carriage, passengers travel through mountain scenery while listening to thrilling children’s stories about the railway.

Swiss National Museum

Fascinating original items in amongst the playfully designed exhibits invite visitors to spend a few minutes finding out more.

Swiss National Museum

“Tickets, please!” – The conductor is also along for the ride, and checks that all passengers have a valid ticket for their journey. He clips their tickets with his ticket punch. SBB conductor’s pouch (about 1973), ticket punch for conductors (about 1930) and Taxmarke revenue stamp canister for SBB conductors/train drivers (1900-1990).

Swiss National Museum

Invitation for young adventurers to travel to bygone worlds at the Museum.

Swiss National Museum

Swiss National Museum press contact

+41 44 218 66 63


The Swiss National Museum would like to thank the Foundation Willy G. S. Hirzel for the generous support.

Items generously loaned by

Exhibtion imprint

Overall management
Andreas Spillmann

Curator and project management
Rebecca Sanders

Scientific collaboration
Marina Amstad, Maja Škrkić

Martina Nievergelt, Zürich

Paolo Monaco, Zürich; Jakob Schiratzki, Zürich

Lighting design
Ursula Degen, Zürich; Kaori Kuwabara, Zürich; Timo Martens, Kilchberg

Set building
Beat Künzler, Schaffhausen

Audio and video
Peter Bräker, Zürich; Tom Gerber, Zürich; Kellerthurgau, Frauenfeld; NatureFootage; Pasquale Pollastro, Danilo Rüttimann, René Vogel

Cultural services and museum education
Stefanie Bittmann

Public relations and marketing
Andrej Abplanalp, Anna-Britta Maag, Sebastiano Mereu, Carole Neuenschwander, Alexander Rechsteiner

Technical management
Gianina Flepp

Conservation management
Gaby Petrak

Conservation and montage of objects
Thomas Imfeld, Elisabeth Kleine, Veronique Mathieu, Jürg Mathys, Uldis Mākulis, Gaby Petrak

Logistics of objects and montage of objects
David Blazquez, Simon D’Hollosy, Reto Hegetschweiler, Markus Scherer

Maya Jucker, Bernard Schüle, Angela Zeier

Advisory committee
Heidi Amrein, Ellen Bryner, Beat Högger, Markus Leuthard, Sabrina Médioni, Andreas Spillmann

Controlling of project
Ellen Bryner, Sabrina Médioni

Jonas Hänggi, Zvonimir Pisonić

Photo library
Andrea Kunz, Fabian Müller

IT and web
Thomas Bucher, Pasquale Pollastro, Danilo Rüttimann, René Vogel

Abacus translations Ltd., Monthey; Marie Claude Buch-Chalayer, Weil am Rhein; Bill Gilonis, Zürich; Marco Marcacci, Lumino-Monticello; Laurence Neuffer