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Virtual visit Smartphone apps replace exhibits at Swiss museums

Two Swiss museums have now closed exhibitions to the public, but made them available online through the Google Cultural Institute in Paris. (Julie Hunt, 

In 2013, the Ethnographic Museum in Neuchâtel packed away a display of masks, becoming the first Swiss museum to take the virtual route.

The Coach and Carriage Museum in Basel’s Merian Park followed suit. The museum closed completely at the end of 2016, due to cuts, but only after experts from Google’s team had photographed the exhibits in minute detail and created a virtual tour for a new smartphone application.

These two Swiss collections are now part of a huge database linked to more than 1,000 museums and cultural institutions across the world.

But the Hü-Basel association, set up to protect and promote Basel’s historic coach and sledge collection, is not impressed with the move. Its members are planning to open a private open-air museum to showcase the region’s carriage building history, putting the emphasis on exhibits you can touch, rather than digital images.

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