In a city with almost 150 museums and galleries, the Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum) beats off some pretty stiff competition to take its place as one of Zurich’s top museums. The largest of its kind in the country, the museum is devoted to preserving the cultural heritage and history of Switzerland, chronicling the birth and evolution of the nation.
Almost 1 million artifacts make up the permanent collection, which takes the visitor on a journey from ancient Switzerland, through the Middle Ages and into the 20th century. Personal items, handicrafts, artworks, furnishings and household items are among the many relics, bringing the past back to life through a series of evocative displays. Highlights include artifacts from as far back as the 4th millennium B.C; a significant collection of 9th century Carolingian art; a Swiss warfare exhibit of weaponry and armor; and an exhibit devoted to the traditional art of Swiss clock making. A regular series of temporary exhibitions supplement the permanent galleries, with recent showcases including themes like Swiss fashion and design and Roman history.
Housed in a striking 19th century castle at the head of Zurich’s Old
Town, the museum is as impressive outside as in. The French Renaissance
façade, the handiwork of architect Gustav Gull, was built to celebration
the 50th anniversary of the Swiss federal constitution and enjoys an
idyllic setting, surrounded by the riverside Platzspitz Park.