Period IV

Prunkstube Palazzo Pestalozzi, 1585, mit Spiegeln. Photo/Foto: TES.

The Collection of the West Wing

The renovation of the West Wing of the National Museum in Zurich has been completed. This wing of the museum has been restored to its 1898 conditions, but equipped with interactive media and made accessible to all target groups, in four languages.

The Museum in Zurich is a kind of headquarter of three National Museums of Switzerland. The other two are located in Prangins (canton of Vaud) and Schwyz.

The Zurich branch was built in 1898 by Gustav Gull at the height of Historicism, which incorporated former styles, such as Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and classical themes.

This diversity of styles made the renovation a challenging venture. It also included the adoption of modern features, such as the use of light and an open view from one room to another.

The West Wing is a showplace of Swiss cultural history objects, presenting more than 7 000 items (called ‘The Collection’, Die Sammlung in German), including the complete Koch collection of (1 500) rings.

A central element is the concept of so-called Period Rooms and Style Rooms, twelve original elegant staterooms from the Middles Ages, Renaissance and Baroque. Various rooms used spolia from historical buildings (The Fraumünster in Zurich or the former pharmacy of the Abbey of Muri, canton of Aargau).

Other rooms are copies after medieval, Gothic or Renaissance models, like the ceiling fresco in the lower chapel (copy from St. Michaels Chapel in Schwyz, early sixteenth century), the upper chapel (after the Winkelriedhaus in Stans, sixteenth century), the reconstructed tiled floor from the old Casino Luzern or the grid pattern of the historical wooden ceiling of St. Martins’s Church in Zillis.

The famous St. Gallus globe (a copy is shown in the library of St. Gallen Abbey) and the beautifully restored Pestalozzi room, including the incorporation of a mirrored floor, creating a hall of astonishment, are among the many beautiful objects.

This setting is the new location of The Collection (Die Sammlung), including medieval religious art, gold- and silver works, porcelain, tapestries, uniforms, weaponry, portraits, scientific instruments, textiles, windows and other themes, all made or used in Switzerland.

The museum managed to bring and to introduce history to daylight in a modern setting in a building of nineteenth century Historicism with modern features. That is a great accomplishment. (Further information: