The New Building of the Swiss National Museum Zurich
The Landesmuseum Zurich
History is exciting – and that is certainly the achievement of the new wing of the Landesmuseum. Built of a specially developed, pale brown concrete, the shape of the building is striking and it links to the classic Gustav Gull building to provide a single tour through the whole museum. The walls are 80 cms thick, to comply with the most up-to-date energy standards in Switzerland and the two buildings meet to form an interior courtyard, opening onto the park which runs along the river.
100,000 Years of Human History in Switzerland
The new permanent exhibition is ‘Archaeology in Switzerland’, which covers 100,000 years of human history in Switzerland. More than 1300 objects and artefacts have been arranged in three themes: ‘Homo’, ‘Natura’ and ‘Terra’ and are framed by the concrete and by the lighting design of the building. The first of these chronicles the fundamental stages in the development of human civilization in Switzerland. ‘Terra’ is an introduction tnto the world of archaeology and ‘Natura’ explores the relationship between mankind and his environment over time.
The most striking objects have to be the Roman gravestone from 180 A.D. which is where the first reference to Zurich’s Roman name can be found, a 3000 year-old Celtic bowl, made of finely wrought solid gold, which was found buried in Altstetten, and the treasure of Erstfeld from 390 B.C., valuable amulets and necklaces, probably buried as an offering to the gods to protect a journey across the Gotthard pass.
Multimedia Exhibit Information
Detailed information about each of the displays, which include film scenes and animations, is available at each station and the visitor can be absorbed and immersed in the past, with the round, porthole windows of the building, with their views out to the park, giving a reference point to the present.
Europe in the Renaissance Exhibition
The other non-permanent exhibition which forms part of the opening of the new building is ‘Europe in the Renaissance: Metamorphosis 1400 – 1600’ This comprises over 300 objects from Europe and the USA, many of which have never been on show in Switzerland before, including the “Armada Portrait” of Elizabeth the First, from the National Portrait Gallery in London. The exhibition is displayed according to a variety of essential elements and themes of the Renaissance: the rebirth of classical antiquity, the revolution in painting, changes in media and communication, the human image, exploration and a new concept for humanity etc. This helps the visitor to personally organise the wealth of knowledge available and gives a framework for viewing other exhibitions or visits to specific locations.
14 Years to Completion
The opening of the new building is a very important milestone in the history of the museum itself. It has been 14 years since the initial architectural competition, with two referenda and three years of construction which has cost CHF 111 million of investment, largely born by the state. There will follow a further three years for the renovation of the east and west wings, and the whole will be complete in 2020.
Of course, any good museum also has good refreshment facilities, and to replace the old, dark and cave-like snack bar there is now a new bistro, a bar and a restaurant, seating up to 300 people. The bar serves classic drinks from 5pm and the restaurant serves local cuisine; brain-food and a venue for meeting friends before or after discovering the treasures in this remarkable building.
The Landesmuseum Zurich – the Swiss National Museum
Address: Museumstrasse 2, 8001 Zurich. See map here.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm (Thursdays till 7pm)
Tel: 044 218 65 11
Article written and researched by Clive Greaves.
All photos courtesy of the Swiss National Museum.
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