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culture trip Museum visitor figures remain healthy in Switzerland

swiss national museum

The old and the new at the Swiss National Museum, Zurich.

(© Keystone / Christian Beutler)

History and archaeology museums top the visitor lists among Swiss museums, which continue to attract millions each year.

It might surprise you that in a country of eight million people that’s not much bigger than Maryland, there are 1,118 museums in Switzerland.

And they are becoming more popular: in total, 13.3 million visits were recorded in 2018 – a million more than in 2015, when stats were first recorded by the Federal Statistical Office.

Of these, most popular were archaeological, historic, and ethnographic museums, which saw some 3.5 million visitors pass through their doors. This was slightly more than art museums, which welcomed 3.1 million.

Local and regional museums, the biggest overall category by type, recorded declining visitor numbers, receiving 670,000 in 2018. Almost three-quarters of all museums in the country receive less than 5,000 visitors per year.

Mirroring the country’s linguistic divides, over 70% of museums are in German-speaking Switzerland, while 20% are in French-speaking regions. The rest are in Italian-speaking or Romansh-speaking parts.

Some of the more prominent Swiss museums include:

The Paul Klee Centreexternal link in Bern, dedicated to one of Switzerland’s best-known artists

The Swiss National Museumexternal link in Zurich, which offers permanent exhibitions on Swiss cultural history from the country’s earliest days to the present

The Swiss Museum of Transportexternal link in Lucerne offers a history of moving from point A to B with whimsical, interactive and informative exhibitions

The Zurich Kunsthausexternal link and the Kunstmuseum Baselexternal link hold some of the country’s best-known pieces and art exhibitions from the world’s greatest artists

For more information on just about any museum in the country, visit the website of the Association of Swiss Museumsexternal link.


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