Ideas of Switzerland


What binds a community together? Initially one might assume it is to do with having the same language, external enemies or economic interests. However, something generally precedes all that: common ideas that are passed down from generation to generation and that shape the development of the community. These ideas lend a distinctiveness to the collective and eventually form the foundation of a national identity. 

For the exhibition, we have selected works by four authors whose ideas contributed to creating the image of contemporary Switzerland: Henri Dunant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jean Calvin and Petermann Etterlin.

Blog articles

Alexander Rechsteiner

18. September 2019

Homesick for the mountains

200 years ago, homesickness was thought to be a typically Swiss affliction. It was triggered by ‘Kuhreihen’, old herdsmen’s songs. The children’s book character Heidi also suffered from homesickness.

Landesmuseum Zürich. Installation «Ideen Schweiz». 16.12.2016. | © danilo@danilo.tv

Andrej Abplanalp

4. August 2017

The Swiss foundation legend

William Tell and the Rütli Oath – the first person to commit this to paper was Petermann Etterlin. The Lucerne city clerk wrote the first comprehensive chronicle of the Swiss Confederation.

© Copyright © 2015 Zvonimir Pisonic / SNM Landesmuseum

Andrej Abplanalp

3. November 2017

The birth of modern cartography

As well as winning numerous accolades as a general in the Sonderbund War, Guillaume-Henri Dufour was also a much-acclaimed cartographer who helped to invent modern cartography.

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