Italianità

Experiences of Switzerland

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Exhibition

A southern European attitude to life is part of Switzerland today. This Italianità stems mainly from Italian immigrants. At the same time, Switzerland has its own home-grown Italianità in Ticino and Graubünden. Many Swiss have adopted the Italian lifestyle over the years, and it is now in evidence across the country – from Basel to Vevey and Sitten, and from Zurich to Biel’s old town. It is part of the country’s intangible cultural heritage. Nonetheless, the path to today’s Mediterranean Switzerland was not always a smooth one; it is littered with both uplifting and sad life stories. Ten contemporary witnesses share their personal accounts in the new 'Experiences of Switzerland – Italianità' exhibition.

Many developments of the recent past have left their mark on Switzerland. Immigration and the advent of the internet are examples of far-reaching social changes that still influence life today. Objects cannot show all these developments in their full complexity. That’s why the new 'Experiences of Switzerland' exhibition format centres on contemporary witnesses. Their journeys and experiences give visitors a detailed look back over Swiss contemporary history. The theme changes every year.

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Experiences of Switzerland – Italianità

National Museum Zurich | 16.1.2024 - 28.4.2024
published on 13.7.2023

In an exhibition exploring the experiences of contemporary witnesses, the National Museum Zurich delves into more recent history and looks at Italianità in Switzerland from a variety of perspectives.

A southern European attitude to life is part of Switzerland today. This Italianità stems mainly from Italian immigrants. In the post-war years, almost half of all Italians who emigrated settled in Switzerland. At the same time, Switzerland has its own home-grown Italianità in Ticino and parts of Graubünden.

Many Swiss have adopted the Italian lifestyle over the years, and it is now in evidence across the country – from Basel to Vevey and Sion, and from the streets of Zurich to Biel’s old town. It is part of the country’s intangible cultural heritage. Nonetheless, the path to today’s Mediterranean Switzerland was not always a smooth one; it is littered with both uplifting and sad life stories. Ten contemporary witnesses share their personal accounts in the new 'Experiences of Switzerland – Italianità' exhibition.

Many developments of the recent past have left their mark on Switzerland. Immigration and the advent of the internet are examples of far-reaching social changes that still influence life today. Objects cannot show all these developments in their full complexity. That’s why the new 'Experiences of Switzerland' exhibition format centres on contemporary witnesses. Their journeys and experiences give visitors a detailed look back over Swiss contemporary history. The theme of this new exhibition format will change every year.

More about the exhibition

Images

Guest workers

After the Second World War, Switzerland absorbs almost half of all Italian emigration. The Italians work in factories, build roads or dams and make a significant contribution to the country's economic, social and cultural life. Waiting guest workers at the station. Brig / VS, 1956

© Swiss National Museum / ASL

Ban on family reunification

Children of seasonal migrants do not receive a residence permit. If they do come to Switzerland with them, they have to hide. Demonstration for the abolition of seasonal worker status. Film still, "Lo stagionale", Alvaro Bizzarri, 1972

© Swiss Social Archives

Fashion

Fashion from Italy soon becomes synonymous with quality and style. Not only large fashion houses contribute to its spread, but migrants also leave a lasting mark on fashion in Switzerland with their awareness of well-chosen clothing. Factory workers from Italy in front of the Hero cannery. Frauenfeld / TG, 1952

© Photopress Archive, Zust, Keystone

World champion!

Italy wins the 1982 World Cup. Shouts of joy fill the streets from Palermo to Zurich and from Geneva to Trieste. The Italians gain self-confidence and "made in Italy" becomes more and more popular. Italy fans celebrate during the World Cup in the streets of Zurich, 1982

© Keystone/ STR

Holiday homes

German-speaking Swiss and northern European tourists are drawn to Ticino because of the mild climate and beautiful landscape. Holiday properties are bought here in search of a safe investment. View of Lake Lugano from the window of a holiday home. Brè over Lugano / TI, 1964-1965

© Swiss National Museum / Paul Igor Swiridoff

Experiences of Switzerland – Italianità

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

Experiences of Switzerland – Italianità

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

Swiss National Museum press contact

+41 44 218 66 63 medien@nationalmuseum.ch

Exhibition imprint

  • Overall management Denise Tonella
  • Project direction Luca Tori
  • Curatorship Jose Cáceres Mardones, Denise Tonella, Luca Tori
  • Scenography Alex Harb
  • Interviews Maurizio Drei, Denise Tonella
  • Projection Maurizio Drei, Michele Innocente
  • Scientific collaboration Martina Albertini, Joya Indermühle, Michael Kempf, Laura Rompietti
  • Scientific advisors Gianni D’Amato, Francesca Falk, Rosita Fibbi, Toni Ricciardi
  • Advisory committee Günhan Akarçay, Heidi Amrein, Beat Högger, Markus Leuthard, Sabrina Médioni, Denise Tonella
  • Controlling of project Sabrina Médioni
  • Cultural services and museum education Lisa Engi, Vera Humbel
  • Technical management Ladina Fait, Mike Zaugg
  • Exhibition construction Ira Allemann, Sophie Lühr, Marc Hägeli, Dave Schwitter, Philippe Leuthardt
  • IT | Web Danilo Rüttimann, René Vogel
  • Media stations Alex Baur, Thomas Bucher, Ueli Heiniger, René Vogel; KARGO Kommunikation GmbH, Immensive SA; Tweaklab AG
  • Marketing and Communication Andrej Abplanalp, Anna-Britta Maag, Sebastiano Mereu, Carole Neuenschwander, Alexander Rechsteiner
  • Advertising graphic Resort GmbH für Visuelle Kommunikation
  • Translations Martina Albertini, Marie-Claude Buch-Chalayer, Barbara Meglen, Laurence Neuffer, Stephen Piccolo, Sara Pesce


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

We thank the eyewitnesses for their precious participation: Addei, Gemma, Ivan, Lara, Nunzio, Pierre, Rosanna, Sacha, Sandro, Vita