Bern's 10 Best Contemporary Art Galleries And Museums

Lily Taylor

The Swiss capital Bern, founded in the early 12th century has a rich history, but is also renowned for its modern and contemporary art scene. With a wealth of exhibition spaces to visit, lovers of contemporary art will find themselves at home in this architecturally striking city. Culture Trip picks the ten must-visit art museums and galleries to visit in Bern.

1. Cerny Inuit Collection

Museum

Bern Kunsthalle Exterior
© Krol:k/WikiCommons
The Cerny Inuit Collection is a unique display of contemporary art from Canada, Siberia and the circumpolar regions on both sides of the Bering Strait. Featuring art made from whalebone, stone, and both walrus and mammoth tusks, the collection gives visitors a rare insight into the life and culture of the people who inhabit the polar regions. The impact of nature, tradition, and shamanism upon these works is also revealed. Set up in a renovated garage near the main train station in Bern, this collection is an unusual departure from the majority of the contemporary art galleries in the city.

2. Kunsthalle Bern

Museum

Kunsthalle Bern was established in 1918 and has been receiving global recognition ever since. Showcasing regional, national, and international art, Kunsthalle organizes new exhibitions each year, featuring either individuals or groups of around six or seven artists. Solo exhibits by contemporary artists such as Paul Klee, in 1935, and Christo, in 1968, brought the gallery to the world’s attention, with exhibitions such as Harald Szeeman’s When Attitudes Become Form still being discussed widely across the art world. The Kunsthalle hopes to present itself as a place for artistic and critical debate and its regular guided tours, lectures, and discussions certainly allow visitors to immerse themselves in the art on display. Kornhausforum | © Raphael Frey/WikiCommons

3. Kornhausforum

Museum

Zentrum Paul Klee Exterior
© Norbert Aepli/WikiCommons
The Kornhausforum, located in the former granary of Bern’s Old Town, around 300 years old, aims to promote new artistic thinking. Revealing aspects of the Bernese community, both the lives of individuals and the city as a whole, the artwork exhibited here often coincides with cultural events and panel discussions. The Stadtsaal located on the first floor, forms the central space for events which can be rented out for private and public functions. Also in the building are two stylish restaurants, the Kornhauskeller, in an atmospheric and spacious cellar, and the Kornhauscafé on the first floor.

5. Kunstmuseum

Museum

Bern’s Kunstmuseum is the oldest art museum in the country and, though not exclusively focused on recent and contemporary art, is a must-visit attraction for anyone wishing to experience the best of Switzerland’s capital. With a total of over 3,000 paintings and sculptures, and around 48,000 drawings, photographs, prints, and films in its collection, the museum easily earns its world-class reputation. With works spanning eight centuries; displays featuring the work of Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler and Meret Oppenheim among many others; and art movements such as impressionism, cubism, and surrealism all represented, the museum could easily occupy an entire day of browsing.

6. Kunstreich

Museum, Art Gallery

Kunstreich focuses on a variety of contemporary art and graphics as well as providing a restoration service. The gallery downstairs, located in one of the vaulted cellars for which Bern is renowned, has been open since 2003 and, though relatively modest in size, it is still worth visiting. The clean, white-washed walls, stone steps and vaulted ceiling add to the calm atmosphere. The selection of artwork on display is varied and the museum hosts between six to eight exhibitions per year.

7. Galerie Bernhard Bischoff & Partner

Art Gallery, Building

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Snowy landscape, Oil on canvas, 28.2 x 42.8 cm, 1930 at the Galerie Henze & Ketterer
© Ernst Ludwig Kirchner/WikimediaCommons
In 2010, the Galerie Bernhard Bischoff & Partner moved to its current premises, which used to be an orphanage, near to the Kunstmuseum. A large variety of contemporary artwork is shown here, from photography, installations and films to painting and sculpture. The gallery hopes to stretch beyond the borders of the city to present national and international contemporary artists in proactive and innovative ways. Recent exhibits include the work of the Bernese photographer Caspar Martig, who created a visual history of the gallery with photographs portraying past exhibitions, close-up examinations of the building itself, and visitors enjoying the art on display.

8. Galerie Henze and Ketterer

Since 1970, Galerie Henze and Ketterer has been a leading Bernese gallery, specializing in German Expressionism and mid-20th century Gestural Abstraction and Figuration, though it also covers a wider range of contemporary and classical modern art. Additionally, the gallery publishes books and catalogs on sale in its adjoining art bookshop to accompany its exhibitions. Artists such as Daniel Spoerri, Theodor Werner and Giovanni Manfredini have been exhibited here, alongside the gallery’s Ludwig Ernst Kirchner archive. Aside from its exhibitions, the gallery also offers a consulting service for current artists wishing to organize events and collections of their own.
Galerie Henze & Ketterer, Kirchstrasse 26, Wichtrach, Bern, Switzerland, +41 31 781 06 01

9. Galerie Martin Krebs

Galerie Martin Krebs was founded in 1968 by Martin Krebs, at a time when Bern was one of the most important art cities in the world due to the influence of Harald Szeemann. A generation of inspired young artists wanted a place to exhibit their work; located in a spacious vaulted cellar, the gallery fulfilled this need and its first solo exhibition was by Jakob Bill. Furthermore, its main exhibition that year, Bern 68, featured work by Bernese artists and was highly acclaimed in the art community. Pop artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol are regularly displayed here alongside other international artwork. The focus remains on Swiss art, however, with new artists constantly being discovered and exhibited.
Martin Krebs, Münstergasse 43, Bern, Switzerland, +41 31 311 73 70

10. Galerie Rigassi by SOON

Founded by Raphael Rigassi in 1991, Galerie Rigassi by SOON displays art from a range of eras and continents and is committed to the idea that art can be used as a means of communication. Works by famous artists such as Ingeborg Lüscher and Arman have been displayed here, though the gallery also exhibits works from lesser known artists from around the world. Indeed, Galerie Rigassi’s artistic scope stretches worldwide, with work by aboriginals and Zhou Brothers also finding a place here. Group and solo shows are rotated regularly whilst the Rigassi young art critic award, bestowed every three years since it was created in 2002, confirms the gallery’s position as a space for energetic critical discussion.
Galerie Rigassi, Münstergasse 62, Bern, Switzerland, +41 31 311 69 64

galerie rigassiGalerie Rigassi | Courtesy Galerie Rigassi
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
Edit article