With over 50 museums to choose from in all corners of the city, it can be a tough job deciding where to get your history fill in Zurich, Switzerland. Not to fret however, as many of Switzerland’s top museums are to be found in the city. Here we’ve brought together 10 of the best to help you along your way.
National Museum Zurich
Swiss National Museum, Zürich | Courtesy of Swiss National Museum
There is no better place to understand the history of Switzerland and its people than the Landesmuseum. Swiss life is on show, all the way from prehistory to the present day and alongside the permanent exhibitions of arts and crafts, there are fascinating special showings that delve deeper into particular periods of the country’s history. The museum is the most frequently visited cultural museum in Switzerland and recently received a modern extension, allowing it to showcase even more pieces.
What better place to learn about the history of money than one of the largest banking centres in the world? The Money Museum features pieces from the private collection of Swiss numismatist Juerg Conzett and traces the story of money all the way back to its roots, to the present day and beyond. Follow the story of cash from traditional currencies made of feathers and bone, all the way to bitcoin.
The Museum Rietberg is the only art museum dedicated to non-European art in Switzerland and is one of the biggest in Zurich. Artwork from Asia, Africa, America and Oceania is featured. Some of the more striking pieces are Buddhist sculptures form China that date as far back the 6th century. The museum is housed in a villa which recently received a makeover and the entrance is now through a beautiful glass, known as the “Emerald” extension.
Zurich’s Kunsthaus is where you’ll find the best of Swiss fine art, alongside internationally renowned artists in a collection that extends back to the Middle Ages. Artists including Picasso, Monet and Lipchitz are on show, as well as a myriad of Swiss artists such as Rist, Hodler and Giacometti. No other fine arts museum in the country can match Zurich’s Kunsthaus for the sheer size of its collection.
Within the campus of Zurich University is Switzerland’s top design museum and one of the most highly regarded museums of its kind in Europe. The museum’s collections are formed around four collections: Poster, Design, Graphics and Applied Art. Some 500,000 objects fall under these four collections and they chart the development of design from 1875 through to the industrial age in the 20th century.
Learn the story of Zurich’s trams, one of the city’s most beloved modes of transport. Tram carts are on show here that date back as far 1897. Getting to the old Tram Depot of Burgwies is a journey through history all on its own, as the city’s oldest functional tram runs along the Museum Line.
Newly opened in 2016, the FIFA World Football Museum has over 1,000 exhibits stretching back to the very first World Cup tournament in Uruguay in 1930. At the museum, all 211 Member Associations of FIFA are showcased in some form or another, even the footballing minnows who have never reached the finals.
Along the famous Bahnhofstrasse shopping street is one of the world’s best collections dedicated to horology. Over 300 exhibits trace the history of timekeeping back to 1400 BC, and includes several incredibly rare items that often travel the world to be featured in other museums. On show in the museum’s ever expanding permanent exhibition are shadow sticks, oil-lamp clocks, grandfather clocks and more.
The University of Zurich’s Zoological Museum is arguably the best of its kind in Switzerland, perhaps rivaled by the Natural History Museum of Geneva. Animals native to Switzerland and others from the far flung corners of the world are featured in the museum’s halls, totaling over 1,500 exhibits to ponder. In addition, the museum has regular special exhibitions such as “Jellyeyes: Evolution and Vision”, a fascinating look into how our own two eyes came to be.
Feel the earth tremor beneath your feet at and learn what makes a volcano tick at focusTerra, a museum dedicated to Earth science. Packed with geology exhibitions, there are plenty of rocks and minerals, interactive projections and an earthquake simulator that’ll make your teeth chatter. Both educational and entertaining, focusTerra is perfect for children.