Exhibition | 23.07. - 17.10.2021

Switzerland in 3D


The exhibition presents stereoscopic photographs of Switzerland from the period between 1860 and 1910. Thanks to the stereoscopic process, international publishing houses were able to popularise a touristic image that found its way into parlours and living rooms around the world. Spectacular mountain peaks, idyllic lakes and glamorous tourist hotspots could be explored in 3D. The circulation of these images helped make the country a top destination for tourists. The exhibition also features background information on the stereoscopics industry.

Blog articles

Andrej Abplanalp

28. July 2021

3D in the 19th century

Stereoscopics, the three-dimensional depiction of two-dimensional images, captivated viewers across the globe in the 19th century. And the phenomenon helped to cement Switzerland’s status as a highly desirable tourist destination.

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Stereomania. Switzerland in 3D

National Museum Zurich | 23.7.2021 - 17.10.2021
published on 15.7.2021

In the 19th century, stereoscopic images were wildly popular viewing in parlours across the globe. The three-dimensional depiction of photographs won legions of fans, and was also instrumental in driving the nascent tourism industry.

‘Stereomania. Switzerland in 3D’ takes visitors on a journey back to 1900. The exhibition focuses primarily on stereoscopic photographs of Switzerland from 1860 to 1910.

With a new type of picture card and a viewer, known as a stereoscope, people could enter a whole new world of three-dimensional images. This technical innovation captivated the public and was inexpensive to produce. International publishing houses distributed the stereoscopic cards worldwide, quickly making them a global mass medium. Tourist subjects were especially popular. The stereoscopic images sparked wanderlust in the parlours and living rooms of the middle classes, and people began obsessively collecting the cards. Switzerland as a tourist destination greatly benefited from the stereoscope craze. The wide circulation of images of spectacular mountain peaks and idyllic lakeland scenes aided the country’s steady rise to becoming a top tourist destination.

The exhibition shows for the first time scores of stereoscopic images that were added to the collection of the Swiss National Museum in early 2020. Alongside the images are traveller accounts and reports. There is also information on the stereoscope industry and stereoscopic technology. The exhibition is supported by the Stiftung Familie Fehlmann (Fehlmann Family Foundation).



Stereophotograph of Zermatt from the US firm Keystone View Company, around 1901, notched for the Whiting View Company’s ‘Sculptoscope’.

Swiss National Museum

Lake Lucerne

Stereophotograph of Flüelen, Lake Lucerne, 1903. The manufacturer was New York firm American Stereoscopic Company.

Swiss National Museum

The Kappelbrücke

Stereophotograph of Lucerne by the US company Underwood & Underwood, around 1901.

Swiss National Museum


Handheld device for viewing stereoscopic images. This version was manufactured by Underwood & Underwood in 1911.

Swiss National Museum

Advertising for stereoscopic images

Advertisement for the ‘Underwood Travel System’ from an Underwood & Underwood catalogue, around 1907.

Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

‘Switzerland’ boxed set

100 stereoscopic photographs of Switzerland in a box in book form. Manufactured by Underwood & Underwood, 1903.

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


The Swiss National Museum would like to thank for the generous support.

Exhibition imprint

  • Overall management Denise Tonella, Andreas Spillmann
  • Exhibition curation and project management Aaron Estermann
  • Scientific collaboration Jeremias Beerli
  • Consultancy Dario Donati, Jarryd Lowder, Ricabeth Steiger
  • Controlling of project Sabrina Médioni
  • Scenography Ralph Nicotera Szenografie und Innenarchitektur
  • Exhibition Graphic Thomas Lehmann, Ldsgn
  • Marketing and communication Andrej Abplanalp, Anna-Britta Maag, Sebastiano Mereu, Carole Neuenschwander, Alex Rechsteiner
  • Key Visual Klaas Kaat
  • Cultural services and museum education Stefanie Bittmann, Lisa Engi
  • Technical management Henrike Binder
  • Exhibition construction Janine auf der Maur, Kim Badertscher, Bachir Ezzerari, Ladina Fait, Marc Hägeli, Mike Roder, Dave Schwitter
  • Conservation and montage of objects Charlotte Maier, Peter Wyer, Tino Zagermann
  • Logistics of objects and montage of objects Christian Affentranger, David Blazquez, Simon D’Hollosy, Reto Hegetschweiler, Markus Scherer
  • Loans Maya Jucker, David von Arx, Angela Zeier
  • Photo library Jeremias Beerli, Andrea Kunz, Fabian Müller, Remo Sidler
  • Photography Jörg Brandt, Zvonimir Pisonic
  • IT | Web Thomas Bucher, Ulrich Heiniger, Pasquale Pollastro, Danilo Rüttimann, René Vogel
  • Translations Laurence Neuffer, Geoffrey Spearing

Items generously loaned by

  • Alpines Museum der Schweiz, Bern
  • Bibliothèque de Genève
  • Grandhotel Giessbach Archiv, Brienz
  • Musée suisse de l’appareil photographique, Vevey
  • Swiss Center of North Amercia, New Glarus
  • Zentralbibliothek Zürich