0000 000 001 Seconds is Measurable

Photo: Musée International d'horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds

The search for precision in time measurement has been a driving force behind innovations in the watch industry since the 17th century. The pendulum, the balance spring and then the quartz make it possible to multiply the precision of clocks. From the Second World War onwards, the precise measurement of time passed from the hands of watchmakers and astronomers to those of physicists. From 1967, the measurement is determined by a microscopic phenomenon: the oscillation of caesium atoms. One femtosecond – 0.000 000 001 seconds is measurable. This precision, hidden to ordinary people, is essential to the organisation of today’s human society: geolocation, navigation, transport, telecommunications, possible thanks to the extreme precision of the time measurement.

The Identity of Switzerland

The exhibition explores the question of what makes Switzerland what it is today. What binds a community together? Initially one might assume it is to do with having the same language, external enemies or economic interests. However, something generally precedes all that: common ideas that are passed down from generation to generation and that shape the development of the community. These ideas lend a distinctiveness to the collective and eventually form the foundation of a national identity. The exhibition presents selected works by four authors whose ideas contributed to creating the image of contemporary Switzerland: Henri Dunant (1828-1910), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), Jean Calvin and Petermann Etterlin (1430-1509). The textual references are supplemented by the Gotthard relief, the Dufour map and numerous data records relating to Switzerland.

Ideal Living

Photo: Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich

In the 20th century, Swiss designers and producers had clear ideas about perfect furnishing. At the outset, the abstract form was a theme. In the 1930s, flexible tubular steel furniture was developed, and in the mid 20th century the unity of elegant form and practical function was propagated. Around 1968, everyday culture and pop art began conquering the living room. A decade later, the post-modern variety of styles was celebrated until the end of the century, when the minimalist tradition was rediscovered. Seven sample rooms, furnished with highlights from the collection, present the most important trends in Swiss furniture design of the modern age and trace changing lifestyles. Advertising brochures and historical photographs complete this exciting journey through time.