Emil Zbinden (1908-1991), the Construction of the Grimsel-Oberaar Hydroelectric plant, 1952. Photo: Alpinesmuseum, Bern, private collection.

The Oberaar Glacier at the headwaters of the Aare River is one of the key glaciers whose runoff feeds the complex hydropower system built by Kraftwerke Oberhasli. The complex maintains 9 power plants nowadays. They were built in 7 construction phases from the 1930’s through 1979. Hydroelectric power is Switzerland’s most important source of energy and it is the energy resource of the future as well. In the twentieth century, entire Alpine valleys were dammed and flooded in order to produce hydroelectricity. The construction of the dams was both a major event and a public attraction. The exhibition examines how artists and photographers have represented the massive Grimsel-Oberaar hydroelectric dam in the Bernese Alps. The main focus is on the wood engraver, painter, and draughtsman Emil Zbinden (1908-1991), who spent several summer weeks at the Alpine construction site between 1950 and 1953.  In the exhibition, Zbinden’s works will be juxtaposed with photographs taken by Heinz Bysäth, Anita Niesz, Jakob Tuggener, and Hans Tschirren.