Home Up Education


Museums in Switzerland

My favorite museum in Switzerland is the National Transport Museum. There is so much to see and do. Here is more from their web page. Click HERE to go there directly for the most recent details.


Hans Erni Museum Cosmorama Planetarium Contact Conference Center Kommunikation Cybershop HiFlyer HIFLYER IMAX Nautirama
The next best museum for me in Switzerland is the Communication Museum in Bern. I have visited there may times, anxious to see stamps from early Switzerland that I will only see in a museum. And they have them, for sure. Here is a glimpse:


500,000 Stamps - 500,000 Stories

The postage stamp is a basic commodity. It is stuck on postcards, love letters and gift packages, on complaint letters, order forms and job applications. That's all we know about it.

The postage stamp is also a collector's item. It is examined under the magnifying glass, sorted, compared, classified and presented. It can arouse passions and become a valuable rarity.

The postage stamp is a message and an image. The image of an era, a culture, a society. Images want to be looked at, messages deciphered. We will show you our treasures - and the variety of stamps worldwide. Come and discover, interpret and examine the fascinating visual language of stamps in the largest stamp collection in the world.

"Basle Pigeon" Basle 1845

"The Dove", Switzerland 1996


Basle Pigeon or Penny Black, William Tell or Globi, Mickey Mouse or Lady Diana are only some of the icons included in the collections "Traditional Philately", "Modern Switzerland" or "Modern Foreign Countries". Authoritative literature on philately can be found in our philately library.

First postage stamp in the world "Penny Black" (1840)

Globi at the Post (1997)

Traditional Philately

Thanks to an intensive collecting activity our museum owns the largest and most valuable collection of Swiss postage stamps in the world (Zurich 4 and 6, Double Geneva, Basle Pigeon, stamps from the transition period, Rayon stamps, the different editions of the sitting and standing Helvetia, hotel stamps, etc.). The museum also possesses important holdings in international philately: Great Britain (Penny Black), old Italy, old USA, Russia, Belgium and Albania.

Different thematic holdings provide a worldwide view of the history of post and philately: balloon post, Zeppelin post, airmail, rocket mail, telegraphy and express mail. Traditional philately is supplemented by collections on individual regions of Switzerland or by national themes. To mention just a few: "The Post in Appenzell Land", Postmarks from Inner Switzerland", "Boy Scouts in Switzerland", "Swiss National Exhibition".

The traditional philately holdings are made up of the museum's own objects and over 40 donations. A large part of these are exhibited in the study collection, the rest is stored in the archive. It can however be consulted for research purposes after prior arrangement.

Contact: Jean-Claude Lavanchy, Curator for traditional philately:


First Swiss Stamp
"Zurich 4" (1843)

Postage stamp of the provisional government of Epirus (Albania), February 1914

Postage Stamp with the Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva (1896)


Modern Switzerland

The collection holds all postage stamps published in Switzerland since 1907 without exception. The spectrum ranges from permanent and special stamps to Pro Juventute, Pro Patria, and airmail stamps to post-paid seals, strip bands and roll stamps. All respective varieties of postage stamps (colour, paper, rubber) are collected, and whenever possible all deviations and printing errors too. Our holdings also include further philatelic accompanying products such as premier letters, collector's sheets, annual albums, stamp notebooks and a large number of different kinds of postmark impressions and stationery (envelopes, postcards, card letters, etc.)

In addition the museum also holds preliminary studies, preliminary drafts, colour and lettering studies, original designs by artists and printing proofs of stamps and numerous official postcards. Thanks to these documents the individual phases in the design of a new postage stamp can be traced. At present the period from 1900 to 1959 is completely covered. The holdings are periodically supplemented by contributions from the "Postage Stamps and Philately" business area of the Swiss Post.

Currently we are building up the collection of Everyday Post. Interest here is concentrated not exclusively on select philatelic pieces. Instead, the appearance of "normal" letters should serve as a contemporary document illustrating social developments.

Contact: lic. phil. Ulrich Schenk, Curator Modern Swiss Philately :

Business letter from Chocolat Lindt with block of four of Tell's Son 5 pence, 1925

Letter with 12 vending machine stamps 5 pence, 1999


Modern Foreign Countries

Composed of more than 500'000 stamps from all over the world, this collection is one of the largest that has ever been opened to the public. Through these stamps it’s possible to witness the history of every country on earth. The largest part of the collection is presented in special drawers, the rest can be viewed in the archive.

Whether in the European countries or on the continents of Africa, America and Asia – through their iconography the history of stamps mirrors the many cultural aspects and treasures of our universe. The most important events of each year are recorded on the stamps: tributes to statesmen, world-championships in football, commemorations of works of art, even milestones like Chernobyl or AIDS.
The spirit of the ages becomes astonishingly obvious when studying the development and choice of themes of these miniature pieces of art.

In the philately-section the Museum of Communication continues its general emphasis on contemporary history and themes by collecting all the stamps that are issued worldwide (as far as possible). It thereby pursues its aim to reflect upon cultural changes that present new challenges for the present and the future.

Philately library

The philatelic specialist literature together with the stamp and auction catalogues form the basis of the philately library. This is supplemented by extensive holdings of philatelic journals and newsletters from philatelic associations. The main emphasis is on Switzerland, the bordering countries as well as on other selected countries.

A special section is devoted to the airmail archive donated by Dr. Robert Paganini. It was augmented by Prof. Robert Gsell's estate on flight and aviation technology.

The library is open to the public with the applicable lending regulations. Your written enquiries will gladly be accepted. Documents which cannot be lent because of conservation reasons can be looked at in the reading room, open every Wednesday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Contact: Jean-Claude Lavanchy, Curator for traditional philately:

Illustrated Postage Stamp Journal" 11th edition, Leipzig 1884

Ralph Simmonds: All About Aircraft, London 1925

Senf Brothers' Illustrated Postage Stamp Catalogue, 1st edition, Leipzig 1892







Bern : The Helvetiaplatz museums
Home > Tourist Guide > Table of contents > Bern > Visiting the city > The Helvetiaplatz museums

Most of Bern’s museums are clustered together around Helvetiaplatz, on the south side of the Kirchenfeldbrücke. Some, like the Bernisches Historisches Museum, shouldn’t really be missed; others have less going for them. Trams #3 (direction Saali) and #5 (direction Ostring) shuttle from the train station and the Zytglogge to Helvetiaplatz.

Bernisches Historisches Museum
You could spend a long time exploring the fascinating Bernisches Historisches Museum (Bernese Historical Museum; Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.5, free on Sat; SMP), a grandiose turreted castle purpose-built in 1894. With seven floors of diverse bits and pieces, it’s a good idea to pick up a floor plan before you start. Information is generally very good, with the scholarly German labelling nearly always given in English and French translation in leaflets kept in wall racks.

The ground floor is given over to temporary exhibitions, which tend not to have English explanations, and it’s worth heading straight down to the basement (taking in, if you’ve time, the extensive porcelain and silver collection on the lower mezzanine on the way). At the bottom, to the left side of the staircase, is perhaps the highlight of the whole museum, a collection of extraordinary and macabre paintings showing “The Dance of Death”; these are 1649 copies of originals painted in 1516–17 on the wall of Bern’s Dominican monastery and now lost. The sequence of 24 vivid images, showing a hideously grinning and fooling skeleton leading kings, prostitutes, nuns and lawyers alike to their inevitable fate, is enough to send a chill down your spine – as, no doubt, it was intended to. Equally impressive is the pillared room directly opposite, filled with the original sandstone figures from the Last Judgement portal of the Münster and fascinating for the chance to view their details up close. Through in another part of the basement are several rooms featuring rural and urban interiors from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reconstructed down to the chamber pots and creaky floors.

From the ground floor all the way up the main staircase is a series of rather unflattering portraits of 280 Swiss peasants and craftspeople in traditional dress, made late in the eighteenth century as a kind of ethnographic record. The mezzanine is devoted to a spectacular Islamic collection, with daggers galore, a mounted Turkestan warrior in full armour, jewellery, ceramics and a reconstructed Persian sitting room. Stairs to the first upper floor bring you to an intricate scale model of Bern in 1800 (made in 1850). Nearby in the same room, for some unknown reason, sits a bust of Brigitte Bardot. Halls left and right display extremely impressive wall-sized medieval Flemish tapestries; the Burgundian Hall holds the Caesar Tapestries, telling the story of Caesar’s life in Burgundian-style dress, and, highlight of the collection, the Thousand Flowers Tapestry, the only one surviving of a set of eight made in Brussels in 1466, which was looted by Bern during the Burgundian wars of 1474–77. Rooms further on with coins and medals include a mesmerising 1828 three-way portrait of Calvin, Luther and Zwingli. On the other side of the stairs is the Trajan Hall, with suits of armour, weapons, cavalry standards and heraldic tapestries galore.

The second upper floor features more military uniforms from different periods, and a series of overwhelmingly meticulous rooms devoted to “Changes in Daily Life”, covering everything from reconstructed shops and schoolrooms from different periods to ephemera, old vending machines and musical instruments. The top floor has a small archeological collection, and above is a belvedere offering bird’s-eye views of the Bundeshaus and the Alps.

Schweizerisches Alpines Museum
Beside the Historical Museum, the Schweizerisches Alpines Museum (Swiss Alpine Museum; May–Oct Mon 2–5pm, Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Nov–April Mon 2–5pm, Tues–Sun 10am–noon & 2–5pm; Fr.5; SMP) is surprisingly good, taking an intelligent, sensitive look at all aspects of life in the mountains, from tourism, the history of mountaineering and the social identity of mountain dwellers to surveys of Alpine flora and fauna and the impact of industry on the mountain environment. There’s plenty to play with and read up on (in English). Crowded all over the museum are dozens of examples of relief mapmaking gone berserk, with mountains, whole valley systems and complete Swiss ranges rendered in perfect scale detail, almost rock by rock, by enthusiasts whose energy and patience can only be imagined.

Other museums
There are plenty of other museums on or very close to Helvetiaplatz. The porticoed Kunsthalle (Art Gallery; Helvetiaplatz 1; Tues 10am–9pm, Wed–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.6) has changing exhibits of contemporary art, usually of very high quality. Behind the Historisches Museum, the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum; Bernastrasse 15; Mon 2–5pm, Tues, Thurs & Fri 9am–5pm, Wed 9am–8pm, Sat & Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.5; SMP) has the largest diorama exhibit in Europe – a somewhat fancy way to describe an array of stuffed animals behind glass, including a rather threadbare “Barry”, the famous St Bernard mountain-rescue dog. Its mineralogical displays are more engaging, with meteorites and cut diamonds, but they’re scant recompense for fighting the tide of schoolkids. The Museum für Kommunikation (Helvetiastrasse 16; Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.5; SMP) surveys media and communication from postage-stamps and early telephones to the Internet and beyond.


Follow these text ads depending on your interest.


Fotomuseum, Winterthur. Photography. (In German.)

Kunstmuseum Luzern. Museum of Fine Arts, Lucerne. (Also in German.)

Musée de la Main, Lausanne. (In French.)

Museum of Fine Arts, Basel. Part of the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, the oldest public museum of the world! (In English and German.)

World Art Treasures, Jacques-Edouard Berger Foundation, Lausanne and EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). Presents a number of developing on-line exhibits of art from Egypt, China, Italy, etc. (Also in French.)

Arte 24: Art, Culture and Museums. (In German, English and French.)

Basel museums. (In German and English.)

Geneva museums. (Mainly in French.)

Lausanne museums. (In French.)

Art museums.

Quick Link List:

Swiss Museums

Basel Museums

Berne Museums

Zurich Museums

Museums of Impressionist Art

Museums of Modern Art

Swiss Transport Museum, Lucerne

Swiss National Museum, Zurich

Open-Air Museum, Ballenberg

Olympic Museum, Lausanne

Emma Kunz Museum

Bergführer Museum

Schweizer Museumspass
Passeport Musées Suisses
Passaporto Musei Svizzeri


Click HERE to continue.

Follow the topics in this link rack to quickly go to your interests.

Switzerland Home  

Facts & Figures 

My Favorite Cities














Google Search

Translation Tool




2004-2009   Copyleft   
Enter search terms here to find details fast at VisitEuropeOnline

Other websites by David Ullian Larson which may be of interest: