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“Much better than anticipated”

Swiss National Museum
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Private Tour: Central Zurich and Surroundings Tour by Electric Tuk Tuk
Ranked #15 of 224 things to do in Zurich
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The National Museum enjoys a central position just a minute’s walk from the main railway station in Zurich. The museum is one of the attractions of this city on the River Limmat. Gustav Gull’s listed building from the 19th century has been extended with the addition of a new building designed by architects Christ & Gantenbein and completed in summer 2016. The museum showcases the history of Switzerland from its early beginnings until the present day in the permanent exhibitions “Archaeology in Switzerland”, “History of Switzerland” and “Collections Gallery”. Every year, there are also several temporary exhibitions and an impressive fringe programme, offering everything from debates to workshops.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Stairs / elevator, Food available for purchase, Lockers / storage, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed January 15, 2013

This museum is right across from the train station and is in a castle. I was not terribly impressed with the first couple of exhibits but ended up being very pleased with the museum overall. It is a great introduction to Switzerland, its people, history, art, tradition and fashion. Please note that you must have cash (francs or euros) to buy the tickets. Also, I found the building to be cold and wished that I had kept on my jacket rather than stored it in a locker. If you only speak English, look for a rack of explanatory cards at the entrance to each ehixibt room that give information in English. You put the cards in another rack on your way out of the room.

2  Thank Kathy P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 9, 2013

A well curated exhibition through Switzerland's history. Lots of good information but not overwhelming and easy to move right through with out getting bored. Great for a rainy day and in winter in Zurich there are plenty of those days!

1  Thank duckleader
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2013

It is easy to spend at least a half of a day going through the Swiss National Museum. There are a total of four floors that focus on different periods or topics. Even if you know a lot about European history, don't get the idea that you know Swiss history and how it fits into the bigger story. You would be selling yourself short, as while it is similar, the Swiss have as much as a violent history than the other European nations.

I found the top two floors as the most interesting. Unfortunately I ran out of time before I could really enjoy the Tower of Arms, which displays weapons and armor. You follow a route through each floor, getting an opportunity to study displays and interactive programs to understand Swiss history and progression. While it is understood that Swiss is currently a neutral country, not everyone might know that it set them back on the international stage after WWII through both its actions and inaction.

Most of the placards are in German and French. However each room had a card in both English and Italian that provided explanations of each item, so language was not a problem. If you are short in time, I'd recommend skipping the Swiss homes & furnishings section. Other than an example of an old home, the rest of the rooms look like your living room and are not that interesting. They also have temporary exhibits, which I was there was Kapital that explained merchant history in both Venice and Amsterdam. As such I skipped it since it was almost closing time and didn't deal with Switzerland at all.

The museum itself is inside an architectural gem. The outside facade adds to the experience and looks like an old castle. To get to the museum is also very easy, as it is adjacent to the Zurich main train station and a ferry stop on the river. I would definitely recommend visiting the Swiss National Museum. You definitely will not regret it.

1  Thank wbullseye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 2, 2013

I visited the museum a while ago and was quite impressed by the collection of swiss and european history. Give it at least half-a-day.

1  Thank Hiking01Glory
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 25, 2012

If you received a general education on European history, there's not much to see here. The Swiss had the Reformation and the Enlightenment; they stayed neutral in WWII and had to rebuild their reputation afterwards by hosting many IGOs.The country has been very rich from textiles, tourism, manufacturing, chemicals/pharmaceuticals, and banking.

The artifacts themselves are not especially compelling.

Thank No t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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