Period IV

Basel, Barfusserplatz with view of Leonard Church. Photo RES

Basel as Mirror of Western Europe

The dynamic of economic and social change in Western Europe in the nineteenth century and the outbreak of the First World War mark the dissolution of a primarily agricultural and rigidly hierarchical social order that had survived for many centuries. Basel has always been a European centre of ideas, trade, freedom of thought, cosmopolitism and multiculturalism, printing press and arts. The citizens have always been committed to introduce modern architecture and to present non-European cultures (as one of the few non-colonial nations in Western Europe).

The museum of Ethnography was founded by missionaries and Swiss travellers and collectors in 1849. Wealthy families, such as the Amerbach, Faesch and Fesch, were engaged in collecting arts and displaying it to the public, societies of arts and many museums were founded. This heritage makes Basel one the cultural centres of Switzerland and of Europe.  (Source: S. Eisenman, Nineteenth Century Art. A Critical History, London 2011).