Located in Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich is one of the most important and visited art museums in Switzerland. It is currently the largest art museum in Switzerland. The art museum boasts an extensive compilation of artwork from Europe and Switzerland. You might question the value of visiting, given the entrance fee of nearly CHF 30. Kunsthaus Zürich – is it worth visiting? Let’s find out.
Kunsthaus Zürich: Is it Worth Visiting?
Kunsthaus Zürich, located in Switzerland, is my personal number one recommendation for art lovers. After the opening of the Chipperfield extension, the museum has become the largest art museum in Switzerland. With a 11500m2 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.
Despite the high-quality artwork and educational opportunities, the museum’s entrance fee is reasonable and worth every penny. The price tag feels like a steal, especially for those who appreciate art and are looking for a worthwhile cultural experience. 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.
Although the museum has likely experienced an increase in visitors, the crowds are not overwhelming. Waiting times to get in may range from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the queue. Once inside, visitors can take their time and explore the museum at their own pace, without feeling rushed or pressured.
In addition to the vast collection and reasonable price, Kunsthaus Zürich also offers guided tours and audio guides, providing visitors with an insight into the context, background, and history of the artwork. Overall, the museum provides a truly inspiring and creative experience for those interested in art, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Switzerland.
Kunsthaus Zürich: Quick History
The museum was founded in 1787 by artists and art lovers. Over the years, the museum’s collection grew, and in 1845, a new building was constructed to house the growing collection. However, the space was not entirely suitable and so they had to find an acceptable alternative. After a century of searching, the final location was found in Zurich.
Kunsthaus Zürich was opened on April 17, 1910, at its current location. The project was built with the help of Karl Moser, a Swiss Architect and university teacher known in the field of church building. Through the years, the art museum expanded with the most recent renovation completed in 2021.
In 2019, the museum underwent a major renovation and expansion project. The project was designed by the architectural firm David Chipperfield Architects, an architectural practice known for its numerous museum buildings worldwide. They were involved in the renovation of the existing building and the construction of a new extension opposite the main building.
The new Chipperfield extension provides additional exhibition space, a ballroom, and ateliers. The new entrance area also includes a new ticket desk, a museum shop, and a cloakroom. The old and new buildings are connected by an underground hall.
Kunsthaus Zürich Today
The museum’s collection includes works from the Middle Ages to the present day, with a particular emphasis on Swiss art from the 18th century to the present day.
Visitors to Kunsthaus Zurich can expect to see works by renowned Swiss artists such as Alberto Giacometti, Ferdinand Hodler, Angelica Kauffman, and Paul Klee. Additionally, the museum showcases splendid paintings by the Italian artist Giovanni Segantini, who resided in Graubünden, Switzerland for an extended period and passed away there.
You will also be delighted to view works of famous European artists such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, and Edvard Munch. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing works by contemporary artists from around the world.
Kunsthaus Zürich: Top 10 Highlights
Kunsthaus Zurich boasts an impressive art collection, ranging from the Middle Ages to modern art. This includes paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, and digital work. My personal top 10 highlights are as follows:
- One of the highlights of the Kunsthaus is a room featuring three massive Claude Monet paintings, two of which capture the beauty of the waterlilies in his garden at Giverny. There are other Monet paintings scattered throughout the museum showcasing his impressionist style and use of color.
- Sammlung Merzbacher is the private art collection of Werner Merzbacher. With 65 paintings, this beautiful collection includes works by artists such as Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bridget Riley, and more.
- The Landscapes Room features breathtaking landscape paintings by Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler and Italian artist Giovanni Segantini, many of which capture the natural beauty of Switzerland.
- Sammlung Knecht features mostly Dutch paintings from Jan Brueghel, Hendrick Avercamp, David Teniers, Jacob van Ruisdael, and more.
- Art from Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso features works by these four renowned artists.
- The Sammlung Emil Bührle is a private collection in Switzerland that includes works by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Paul Cézanne, among others. A total of 203 pieces by Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists are currently available at the Kunsthaus, and visitors can enjoy those on display until at least the end of 2034.
- Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss artist known for his distinctive sculptures and paintings, including the iconic “Walking Man” sculpture.
- Every few months, the Kunsthaus Zürich updates its temporary exhibits. During my visit, I had the chance to see the Re-orientations and Salvador Dali exhibits, both of which were exceptional. Re-orientations, a temporary exhibit at the Kunsthaus, showcased the diversity of Islamic art, featuring a range of artwork, including textiles, ceramics, tiles, and other decorative arts, that highlighted the cultural richness and artistic traditions of the Islamic world. I suggest checking which temporary exhibit is on display before making a decision.
- Italian paintings from 1300 to 1800 at the Kunsthaus Zurich showcase the development of Italian painting through works by prominent artists such as Giovanni Antonio Canaletto, Bartolomeo Montagna, and more.
- The museum presents a variety of Swiss paintings from Albert Anker, Arnold Böcklin, Ferdinand Hodler, Ernst Koller, Paul Klee, and Marianne von Werefkin, showcasing their unique styles and perspectives on Swiss culture and society.
How to Get to Kunsthaus Zürich
Kunsthaus Zürich is located in the heart of Zurich, Switzerland. It is easily accessible by public transportation such as tram and bus.
Kunsthaus Zurich: Practical Information
- Guided Tours: Guided tours are available for visitors who want to learn more about the museum’s collections and exhibitions. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the artworks on display. Guided tours include audio guides, audio guides for children, general guided tours, and private guides. Guided tours are also available in several languages, as well as for those with hearing impairments.
- Workshops: Private workshops for adults are available upon request.
- Opening Hours: The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with extended hours on Wednesday and Thursday until 8:00 PM. It closes at 6:00 PM on selected days.
- Tickets: Buying tickets online is a good idea, as the line is typically shorter than for those purchasing at the cash desk.
- Lockers: Conveniently located near the cash desk are lockers for storing personal items.
- Underground Passage: If you’re looking to move between the Chipperfield and Moser buildings, you can take the underground passage, which is marked by signs for Chipperfield and Moser.
- Museum Cafe: The museum’s cafe is located on the ground floor and offers a variety of snacks, sandwiches, and beverages.
- Gift Shop: The museum has a gift shop on the ground floor, where visitors can purchase books, prints, postcards, and other souvenirs related to the museum’s collection.
- Wheelchair access: The museum is wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators throughout the building.
Kunsthaus Zurich: Top 5 Tips
- Check the temporary exhibits in advance to determine whether they’re worth visiting during your trip.
- Comfortable shoes are a must, as you could be walking for 2 hours or more.
- The museum is so big that it might be worth considering breaking up your visit into multiple days.
- Do not touch the artwork.
- Make the most out of your museum trip by getting a copy of the floor plan to assist you in orienting yourself and planning your visit.
Final Thoughts: Visiting Kunsthaus Zürich
In conclusion, the Kunsthaus Zürich is truly a top destination for art lovers looking to explore a wide variety of Swiss and European art. With an extensive collection of works spanning centuries, the Kunsthaus offers visitors a chance to discover new artists and art movements. Whether you are interested in impressionism, expressionism, or contemporary art, the Kunsthaus has something for everyone.
While the cost of admission may seem high to some, it is definitely worth it for the amount of art on display. With so many art collections to explore, visitors can easily spend a whole day (or more) here. The museum also offers a range of guides and tours, making it easy to get the most out of your visit.
Overall, Kunsthaus Zurich is a world-class museum that offers a rich and diverse artistic experience. It is a testament to the importance of art in Switzerland and the world, and a must-visit for anyone interested in the arts.
In addition to the Kunsthaus, I would also highly recommend visiting the Fondation Beyeler in Basel and the Plateforme 10 in Lausanne, both of which offer their own unique take on the art world. Overall, I cannot recommend the Kunsthaus Zürich enough. It is truly a gem of a museum and a must-visit for anyone interested in art.
- 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.
- Die Sammlung. Kunsthaus Zürich, 2023.
- Kunsthaus Zürich. https://www.kunsthaus.ch/
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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.