The Director's Guide: Kunsthaus Zurich

Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich, Switzerland // Photo by RossHelen/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh, The Telegraph, June 9, 2017

Established over a century ago and one of Switzerland's preeminent cultural attractions, Kunsthaus Zurich holds not just significant collections of Swiss, modern and historic art but also hosts some of the city's most ambitious and intriguing temporary exhibitions. Here Kunsthaus Zurich director Christoph Becker gives his insider guide to the cultural attraction.

How should first-time visitors structure their visit?
It is easy: The Kunsthaus mounts up to 12 exhibitions through the year and has a wide range of works on view from contemporary to medieval. It is an entertaining institution. Begin on the second floor of the historic listed building (Munch, Impressionism, Modern Art) and stroll down (Baselitz, Kiefer, Penck); have a glimpse at the fabulous Older Masters; see the loveliest cow ever in the Swiss Art section; and do not leave until you have seen Giacometti. The museum displays the largest collection of this unique artist.

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What should visitors ensure they see? 
We have  lots of  works by famous international artists like Alberto Giacometti, Claude Monet, van Gogh, Munch and Picasso but also a wide range of Swiss art, including Ferdinand Hodler and Henry Fuseli. We also hold major works by Twombly or Baselitz and even very contemporary young artists.

When are the best times to visit?
If you prefer a more private visit come on Tuesday. The collection is free of charge every Wednesday. Weekends are more busy but fun and offer additional programs for kids and free guided tours. There are always special exhibitions going on.

Which works best give insight into Switzerland?
Go upstairs, turn left. Switzerland's most famous painting is the Gotthard Post, which depicts a five-horse coach in clouds of dust, packed with screaming ladies racing down the narrow slope of the St. Gotthard pass. The Swiss are more dynamic than their reputation.

What's your favourite work?
If I were urged to make a choice it would be Henry Fuseli’s Titania caressing Zettel with a donkey’s head (1793). No, it is Hodler’s Evening on Lake Leman (1895). Or Barnett Newman's Moment I (1962). It's too difficult to decide.

Which work has the most interesting history?
Rodin’s monumetal Gate of Hell, a cast of which was originally commissioned for the planned Führer Museum in Linz in the 1930s. That museum fortunately never came into being and the artwork has stood outside the Kunsthaus since 1947. It came with a touring exhibition mounted by the Fonderie Rudier Paris – and stayed. 

What forthcoming (or current) temporary exhibitions are you most excited about?
Fashion Drive, an exhibition on extreme fashion in works of art from late medieval until today, in 2018.

What's unique about the institution?
Probably that most staff members actively pursue an artistic career, study art or engage in other cultural activities.

Visiting Kunsthaus Zurich

  • Opening hours: Tues/Fri–Sun 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed/Thu 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday closed​
  • Prices and tickets: CHF16 for the general collection; concessions available
  • Address: Heimplatz 1, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland​
  • Website:

The Directors' Guides 


This article was written by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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