Zurich opens spectacular new wing of National Museum

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August 11, 2016 – The time has finally arrived: With the New Wing of the National Museum Zurich, a once-in-a-lifetime project has been realised. The impressive modern wing is an extension of the old building, creating an ensemble of old and new.

Gustave E. Marchand, Director of the Federal Office of Buildings and Logistics, hands the keys of the new museum wing over to Federal Coucillor Alain Berset.

Its completion was marked with an opening ceremony led by Swiss Federal Councillor Alain Berset and a 26-hour celebration for the general public on the weekend of 1 August, kicking off at 6.00 p.m. on Sunday, 31 July.

A three-minute firework concluded the official ceremony.

The museum was open all night and did not close its doors again until Monday evening. 

The National Museum Zurich: ensemble of old and new. View from the Neumühlequai in January. © Roman Keller.

With its New Wing, which has taken around 15 years to plan and build, Zurich’s popular cultural history museum now offers flexible exhibition spaces and cutting-edge infrastructure. With its 80-centimetre-thick walls, the new extension is the first museum building in Switzerland to meet the Minergie-Eco-P standard.

The National Museum Zurich: ensemble of old and new. View from the Neumühlequai in July. © Swiss Nationalmuseum. Photo: Gabriel Ammon, aura.ch.

This wing, which was designed by Christ & Gantenbein, connects with Gustav Gull’s original building to form a single whole, so visitors touring the exhibitions can now make their way seamlessly through the new ensemble. The tuff stone used in the façade of the old building is incorporated into the facade of the New Wing, whose polished concrete floors are a contemporary take on the terrazzo floors in the old building.

Passage from Platzspitz park to the new courtyard. © Roman Keller.

The two buildings meet to form an inner courtyard, which opens out onto the park. One of the highlights of the interior is the grand staircase, flanked by round windows that direct the visitors’ gaze out towards the park’s historic collection of trees.

Thank to the invention of printing new knowledge spread throughout whole Europe. © Swiss Nationalmuseum.

The museum is marking the opening of its new extension with two brand new exhibitions: “Europe in the Renaissance. Metamorphosis 1400-1600”, which showcases the culture of dialogue, ideas, transformation and cultural interaction over great distances during the Renaissance period, …

The exhibition “Archaeology in Switzerland” combines old objects with modern technique. © Swiss Nationalmuseum.

… and “Archaeology in Switzerland”, which offers a visual insight into Switzerland’s rich archaeological and cultural heritage.

The reading room of the library and Study Centre with view to the outside. © Roman Keller.

In addition to the modern, versatile exhibition halls, the New Wing houses a study centre and library, an auditorium for public events and premium catering facilities. The Study Centre forms a link between the exhibitions and the Collection Centre in Affoltern am Albis, which is where the 850,000 or so objects that make up the Swiss National Museum collection are kept. With its state-of-the-art workspaces, it provides the perfect place for conducting in-depth investigations into aspects of cultural history. The centre consists of a library geared towards cultural and historical topics, study collections of numismatic items, historical photographs, graphic works and archaeology and a textile and image archive. 

Under the name “Spitz” – a nod to the neighbouring Platzspitz park – the National Museum now also boasts a bistro, a bar and a restaurant offering indoor and outdoor seating for a total of 300 people. The restaurant serves high-quality local cuisine, while the bistro provides a selection of snacks and light bites. Classic drinks are mixed in the bar from 5 o’clock in the evening.

For more information on the National Museum Zurich visit the museum’s website.