The 10 Museums You Must Visit in Switzerland

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Sean Mowbray

With a rich and diverse history, Switzerland’s museums have an exciting story to tell. However, these museum exhibitions don’t stop at the border, there are many collections that include must-see pieces from around the world. Make sure to add some of these museums on to your must-see list.

1. Bodmer Museum – Cologny

Museum, Library

The Bodmer Foundation contains the literary collections of Martin Bodmer. It’s a must visit for anyone interested in the history of the written word. On show are copies of the Egyptian Book of the Dead,a first edition of the Gutenberg Bible and documents hand-written by Beethoven, Napoleon, Borges and many more historical figures. There are also fascinating temporary exhibitions throughout the year. You’ll leave the Bodmer feeling humbled by the power of the many literary geniuses on show.

2. International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum – Geneva


Geneva is where the Red Cross Movement began. At the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, you can walk through the history of the world’s longest running humanitarian initiative and discover the best and worst sides of human history. This interactive museum is bound to leave a lasting impression on you.

ICRC, Avenue de la Paix 19, Genève, +41 22 734 60 01

Discover Your Inner Olympian

Covering 3,000 square metres, Lausanne’s Olympic Museum allows you to relive great Olympic moments on 150 screens dotted around the venue. After learning the history of the Olympic Games, you’ll leave with a greater understanding and appreciation of what it means to be an Olympian. The museum has a host of interactive events, conferences and shows throughout the year for children, adults, sports enthusiasts and couch potatoes alike.

The Olympic Museum, 1, quai d’Ouchy, Lausanne, +41 21 621 65 11

3. Boggle your mind at CERN

At CERN you can visit the Microcosm to learn about the history of the Large Hadron Collider and the Universe of Particles to really stretch your grey matter. If you plan your trip right, you can also visit the inside of the LHC. When it’s not switched on, of course.

CERN, Route de Meyrin 385, Meyrin, +41 22 767 84 84

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4. Luzern's Swiss Museum of Transport


The Swiss Museum of Transportation is the most visited museum in Switzerland. Spread across 20,000 square metres with over 3,000 displays, its interactive exhibits take you through the history of transport on land, sea, air and space.

Natural History Museum of Bern

Among the many Natural History Museums in Switzerland, Bern’s stands out as one of the best. Including many other interesting exhibitions, the Natural History Museum in Bern is the resting place of Barry, the ‘legendary’ rescue dog credited with saving no fewer than 40 people from the Great St. Bernard Pass in the 19th century. It also houses a collection of giant crystals found in the canton of Uri in 2005.

Natural History Museum of Bern, Bernastrasse 15, Bern + 41 31 350 71 11

The giant Planggenstock crystals are on show at Bern’s National History Museum

5. St. Gallen’s Internationally Renowned Textile Museum


St. Gallen’s Textile Museum showcases textiles from around the world, as well as modern day artwork from Switzerland. The 30,000 piece collection includes antique lace from Egyptian Coptic tombs, 14th century embroideries and hand-made lace from across Europe. You can also follow the development of textile production in the town of St. Gallen, from a small-scale hand-made industry to mass machine-driven production.

6. Ballenberg’s Open-Air Exhibition of Swiss Life


A Bernese house rebuilt in the Ballenberg open-air museum
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If you want to understand Swiss life through time, you should visit the Ballenberg Museum. Here, you can wander through over 100 huts, barns, store-houses, wash-houses and other historical buildings from across the 26 cantons. All the buildings were deconstructed and put back together piece by piece, giving a glimpse of what life would have been like for the owners. Around 250 live farm animals roam through the open-air museums exhibits, adding an extra touch of authenticity to this fascinating walk through Swiss life.

International Museum of Horology

Dedicated to the art of watchmaking, the International Museum of Horology takes you on a journey through the measurement of time, from the first crude attempts up to the present day. You can also see the artists and tinkerers at work restoring watches in the museum workshop. La Chaux-de-Fonds received recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its part in the history of timekeeping.

International Museum of Horology, Rue des Musées 29, La Chaux-de-Fonds, +41 32 967 68 61

7. Swiss National Museum


Swiss National Museum
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The Swiss National Museum is actually three museums; the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History. The permanent exhibition in the main museum houses artefacts from Swiss cultural history from the Palaeolithic age all the way to the current day. To learn about how the Swiss have lived throughout history, there is no better place to visit.

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