Although Switzerland is known primarily for its stunning landscapes, it also has a thriving art scene with numerous museums, art galleries, performing arts, public art, and one of the world’s most prestigious contemporary art fairs – Art Basel. Choosing which art museum to visit can be challenging with so many scattered across the country.
In this article, we will explore the 12 best art museums in Switzerland based on cumulative visitor appraisals and our experience that every art lover should add to their must-see list.
From the Fondation Beyeler in Basel to the Kunsthaus in Zurich, Switzerland boasts an impressive collection of art museums that showcase a diverse range of artistic styles and periods. The art museums in Switzerland have something to offer everyone, whether they are interested in classical masterpieces, non-European art, or contemporary art.
Without further ado, let’s explore the 12 best art museums in Switzerland and discover their treasures.
1. Fondation Beyeler
Fondation Beyeler is one of the most popular art museums in Switzerland, located in Riehen, near Basel’s city center. Founded by Swiss art dealer and collector Ernst Beyeler together with his wife, the museum is named after them. It was opened in 1997 and is known for its well-curated and impressive collection of modern and contemporary art.
The permanent collection at Fondation Beyeler includes works by some of the most famous artists of the 20th century, such as Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Georges Braque, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Alberto Giacometti. He also has works from Mark Rothko, Mark Tobey, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, featuring both established and emerging artists.
If you would like to learn more about Fondation Beyeler, you can check out: Fondation Beyeler – Among Switzerland’s Most Visited Museums.
The building itself is a work of art, designed by the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano. Renzo Piano is an Italian architect who designed a ton of famous buildings, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, The Shard in London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Around the museum is a beautiful park.
Visitors can enjoy a range of activities at Fondation Beyeler, including guided tours (in German) and workshops. The museum also has a shop, where visitors can purchase souvenirs and art books. Dining is available in Villa Berower, a late-Baroque building across from the museum.
Address: Baselstrasse 101, 4125 Riehen
2. Museum Rietberg
Museum Rietberg is a renowned art museum located in Zurich, Switzerland. This museum is known for its extensive collection of non-European art, including Asian, African, Oceanian, and ancient American works. The museum opened in 1952 at Villa Wesendonck in Zurich to house Eduard von der Heydt’s collection of non-European art.
The focus of Museum Rietberg on non-European art makes it unique and sets it apart from other museums in the country.
The museum boasts an impressive collection of over 70,000 objects in its collection. The collection includes photography, painting, graphics, jewelry, pottery, figures, textiles, masks, and instruments.
If you would like to learn more about Museum Rietberg, you can check out: Rietberg Museum, Zurich: Beautiful Art From Around the World.
One of the highlights of the Museum Rietberg is its collection of Asian art. The collection includes works from India, China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
Another notable section of the museum is the African collection. The collection includes masks, sculptures, and textiles from various regions of the continent. Additionally, there is a section of the museum dedicated to the art of the Americas, which contains Mayan Art.
Address: Gablerstrasse 15, 8002 Zürich
3. Kunsthaus Zürich
Kunsthaus Zürich is the largest art museum in Switzerland. The museum is located in Zürich near the Old Town and houses a large collection of art. After the opening of the Chipperfield extension, the museum has become the largest art museum in Switzerland. With an 11,500m2 area, art has plenty of room to be displayed.1
The museum houses a vast collection of artwork from various periods and regions, including classic, impressionist, and modern art. The collection is an art lover’s paradise, with its three colossal paintings by Claude Monet and an extensive selection of other art forms. From Segantini’s majestic landscapes to Italian masters’ timeless pieces and Warhol’s iconic colorful art, visitors can discover a variety of styles and perspectives.
Kunsthaus Zurich offers visitors an in-depth look at famous artists and various art movements with its extensive collection. Whether you are interested in impressionism, expressionism, or contemporary art, the Kunsthaus has something for everyone.
With such an extensive area to explore, visitors can comfortably spend the entire day here, from the time it opens until the time it closes.
If you would like to learn more about Kunsthaus Zurich, you can check out: Kunsthaus Zurich – Is It Worth Visiting?
Address: Heimpl. 1/5, 8001 Zürich
4. LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura
LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura is one of the most prominent art museums in Switzerland, located in the city of Lugano. Since opening in 2015, this museum in the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland has become a popular destination.
One of the unique features of LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura is its state-of-the-art architecture. The museum was designed by the renowned Ticino architect Ivano Gianola and his team, after winning an international competition where more than 100 architecture studios participated.2 The building faces Lake Lugano and houses an art museum, concert hall, and cultural events in addition to the gallery.
Artists, collectors, traders, and scholars with a connection to Canton Ticino are represented in the MASI Lugano Collection. The exhibition features the works of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Henri Rousseau, and Félix Vallotton, among others.
Address: Piazza Bernardino Luini 6, 6900 Lugano
5. Kunstmuseum Basel
A major art museum in Switzerland, Kunstmuseum Basel is one of the oldest and most important in the country. It was founded in 1661. With an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art, it is located in the heart of Basel.
Its public art collection includes works by some of the most famous artists in history, including Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Camille Pissarro, Vincent van Gogh, and more. The collection includes over 4,000 paintings, sculptures, and installations.
Throughout the year, Kunstmuseum Basel hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions in addition to its permanent collection. A wide range of artistic styles and media are represented in these exhibitions.
Address: St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel
6. Collection de l’Art Brut
Located in Lausanne, the Collection de l’Art Brut is a museum that houses a unique collection of art made by individuals outside of the mainstream art community. The museum was founded by the French painter, sculptor, and visual artist Jean Dubuffet in 1976. Since then, it has become a popular destination for art lovers.
A highlight of the museum is its permanent exhibition, which features works from the museum’s collection. Providing visitors with a unique perspective on art, the exhibition showcases the creativity and diversity of the art brut movement.
There are 70,000 works of art in the Collection de l’Art Brut, of which around 700 are displayed in the permanent exhibition. These include drawings, paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art. The artists involved in this movement are known to use unfamiliar materials and unconventional forms of expression in their work.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions inspired by the art brut movement. The Collection de l’Art Brut and the Château de Beaulieu are classified as cultural assets of national importance.
Address: Av. Bergières 11, 1004 Lausanne
7. Rosengart Collection
The Rosengart Collection is one of the best art museums in Switzerland, located in Lucerne. It features art pieces from 25 masters, making it a truly enjoyable experience.
You can be inspired by the stunning Art Collection presented by Siegfried and Angela Rosengart located in what used to be the Swiss National Bank building built back in 1924. The Rosengart Collection proudly presents many works of Pablo Picasso. Other artists include Paul Klee, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, and Claude Monet.
Address: Pilatusstrasse 10, 6003 Luzern
8. Forum Würth Rorschach
Forum Würth Rorschach is a contemporary art museum located in Rorschach, Switzerland, near the border with Austria and Germany. This museum was opened in 2013 and is part of the Würth Group, a global market leader in the trade of assembly and fastening materials.
The modern art museum in Würth Haus Rorschach is dedicated to paintings, graphic art, and sculpture from the Würth Collection, which comprises 20,000 works.3 It hosts temporary exhibitions based on the private collection of the Würth group.
The museum’s building is a modern building on the shores of Lake Constance and was designed by the architects from Gigon/Guyer. It combines glass and steel to create an imposing building with plenty of green space around it for a relaxing stroll.
Address: Churerstrasse 10, 9400 Rorschach
9. Sammlung Oskar Reinhart Am Römerholz
Sammlung Oskar Reinhart Am Römerholz is a museum located in Winterthur, Switzerland. The museum is dedicated to the collection of Oskar Reinhart, a Swiss art collector who lived during the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum is housed in his old house, a villa in Römerholz, that now belongs to the Federal Office of Culture.
The collection at Sammlung Oskar Reinhart Am Römerholz consists of works by French Impressionists such as Pierre-August Renoir, Edouard Manet, and Paul Cézanne.
Address: Haldenstrasse 95, 8400 Winterthur
10. Musée Ariana
Musée Ariana is a museum of ceramics and glass located in Geneva. Musée Ariana is part of the Association of Art and History Museums (Musée d’art et d’histoire) in Geneva. The museum is dedicated to porcelain, stained glass, and glassware.
Musée Ariana was built on Gustave Revilliod’s estate and stands today thanks to his generosity. Designed in Neo-Classical and Neo-Baroque styles, the Ariana Museum was completed in 1884.
The outside facade is decorated with columns, niches, and famous artists. With its elliptical great hall, this building will remind you of both a basilica and a palace. Since its opening, Musée Ariana and its surrounding park have been visited by people all over the world.
Musée Ariana has 28,000 objects, 90% of which are ceramics. The ceramics range from the 9th century to the present. In the Ariana Museum, you’ll find ceramic vessels, plates, small tableaux, decorated statues, and cups.
If you would like to learn more about Musée Ariana, you can check out: Musée Ariana, Geneva: 8 Things That Make You Love It.
You can relax and enjoy nature at Parc de l’Ariana. Enjoy a peaceful walk in the park with beautiful trees and fountains.
Address: Av. de la Paix 10, 1202 Genève
11. Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Genève
The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva is one of the largest museums in Switzerland, covering a wide range of art and historical artifacts. Collections are divided into several departments, including archaeology, fine art, decorative arts, and ethnography.
This museum dates back to 1826 and showcases collections from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. You can expect a wide variety of art including paintings, graphics, and more.
You can expect paintings from Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, Auguste Rodin, and more. The archeology section displays European prehistory and ancient cultures (Egypt, Greece, Roman). Porcelain is presented separately in the Ariana Museum.
Address: Rue Charles-Galland 2, 1206 Genève
12. Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts Lausanne
The Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts Lausanne is one of the best art museums in Switzerland, located in Plateforme 10, Lausanne, Switzerland. It is one of the largest art museums in Switzerland and is renowned for its extensive collection of Swiss art from the 18th century to the present day.
Originally in the Palais de Rumine, MCBA is now in Plateforme 10. MCBA has displayed acquisitions and gifts since 1816. Collections include abstract painting, international video art, geometric abstraction, and more.
At MCBA, there are religious paintings, portraits, symbolism, post-impressionism, abstractions, etc. There are temporary exhibit spaces where you can explore a theme or an artist. They alternate between ancient, modern, and contemporary art.
Some works from the following artists made their way to MCBA: Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Vuillard, Bonnard, Denis, Rodin, Maillol, Bocion, Biéler, Hodler, and Giovanni Giacometti.
Five exceptional holdings provide MCBA with its rich visual legacy:
- Louis Ducros
- Charles Gleyre
- Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen
- Félix Vallotton
- Louis Soutter
If you would like to learn more about Plateforme 10, you can check out: Plateforme 10: Lausanne’s New Art District.
Apart from its permanent collection, the museum hosts several temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing both established and emerging artists.
Address: Pl. de la Gare 16, 1003 Lausanne
Summary: 12 Best Art Museums in Switzerland
Aside from its spectacular natural beauty, Switzerland also boasts many fantastic art museums. Below is a summary of 12 of the best art museums in Switzerland:
- Fondation Beyeler: Located in Basel, the Fondation Beyeler is a must-see for art lovers. The museum is home to an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by artists such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Hockney.
- Museum Rietberg: The Museum Rietberg is one of the few museums in Switzerland dedicated to non-European art. The museum’s collection includes art and artifacts from Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
- Kunsthaus Zurich: This museum is home to one of the most extensive collections of modern art in Switzerland. Visitors can admire works by artists such as Claude Monet, Ferdinand Hodler, Alberto Giacometti, and Pablo Picasso.
- LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura: Built only in 2015, the center supports various art forms, from visual arts to music. In this modern building on the banks of Lake Lugano, you’ll find events and shows for all ages.
- Kunstmuseum Basel: The Kunstmuseum Basel is one of the oldest and most important art museums in Switzerland. The museum’s collection includes works by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and more.
- Collection de l’Art Brut: The Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne is dedicated to outsider art. The museum’s collection includes works by self-taught artists and others who work outside of traditional art institutions.
- Sammlung Rosengart: The Rosengart Collection proudly presents many works of Pablo Picasso. Other artists include Paul Klee, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, and Claude Monet.
- Forum Würth Rorschach: The modern art museum in Würth Haus Rorschach is dedicated to paintings, graphic art, and sculpture from the Würth Collection, which comprises 20,000 works.
- Museum Oskar Reinhart: The Museum Oskar Reinhart in Winterthur is home to an impressive collection of European art from the 14th to the 20th century. The museum’s collection includes works by French Impressionists such as Pierre-August Renoir, Edouard Manet, and Paul Cézanne.
- Musée Ariana: The Ariana Museum is the Swiss Museum for Ceramics and Glass Geneva, housing 28,000 objects, 90% of which are ceramics. There are ceramics dating back to the 9th century as well as modern ceramics.
- Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Genève: Geneva’s Museum of Art and History brings together several collections, ranging from Western paintings to drawings, pastels, applied arts, and archeological collections.
- Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts Lausanne: The Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts in Lausanne shows fine art, photography, design, and textile arts in Plateforme 10.
1 Stadt Zürich Hochbaudepartement. Kunsthaus Zürich: Erweiterung von David Chipperfield ist fertiggestellt. https://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/hbd/de/index/ueber_das_departement/medien/medienmitteilungen/2020/dezember/201211a.htm. Accessed on 27 April 2023.
2 Lugano. LAC – Lugano Arte e Cultura. https://www.lugano.ch/la-mia-citta/progetti-e-campagne/progetti/lac-lugano-arte-cultura/. Accessed on 1 September 2023.
3 Würth Haus Rorschach. Kunst im Forum Würth Rorschach. https://www.wuerth-haus-rorschach.ch/de/wuerth_management_ag_haus_rorschach/7_catering_1/kunst/kunst.php. Accessed on 1 September 2023.
- Fondation Beyeler – Among Switzerland’s Most Visited Museums
- Kunsthaus Zurich – Is It Worth Visiting?
- Rietberg Museum, Zurich: Beautiful Art From Around the World
- Musée Ariana, Geneva: 8 Things That Make You Love It
- Plateforme 10: Lausanne’s New Art District
Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.