Treasures around the lake of Thun

What is perhaps Switzerland's most picturesque museum opens its summer season at the weekend with two special exhibitions. The Schloss Oberhofen - or Oberhofen Castle - is on the northern shore of Lake Thun in the heart of the Bernese Oberland.

This content was published on May 12, 2000 minutes

The first exhibition, in the castle itself, is of an unusual subject: tapestries which used to hang around the tops of the four-poster beds of well-to-do Bernese families in the 16th- and 17th-centuries.

These tapestries were often embroidered with scenes from the Old Testament. The curator of Schloss Oberhofen, Vera Heuberger, said they may have been stitched by local women from high society, "or by professionals, although the exact identity is uncertain, it was probably a Bernese woman".

The exhibition, in collaboration with Berne's History Museum, is alongside the permanent items on display in the lakeside mediaeval castle, which for centuries was a private residence.

Across the castle garden are two other museums. One - with seven rooms - takes visitors on guided tours of seven centuries of craftsmanship. The Museum of Timekeepers and Musical Instruments is a feast for both the eyes and the ears.

Next door is a museum housing one of Switzerland's most remarkable private collections of modern art. In a relatively small space, there are works by Picasso, Cézanne, Chagall, Kandinsky, Jawlensky and other great artists of the first half of the 20th-century. They were all collected by Karl Im Obersteg, who died in 1969, and his son Jürg.

This year's summer exhibition features the works of a group of Russian exiles from Germany - including Kandinsky and Jawlensky - who established an artists' colony in the then small village of Ascona in Canton Ticino around the time of the First World War.

by Richard Dawson

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