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Kunstmuseum Bern: A Guide to Switzerland’s Oldest Public Art Museum

Last Updated on March 11, 2024 by Darla

Kunstmuseum Bern, also known as the Museum of Fine Arts Bern, is a renowned art museum located in Bern, Switzerland. It houses over 4,000 paintings and sculptures, ranging from medieval to contemporary art. Kunstmuseum Bern is also one of the oldest art museums in Switzerland. In this article, we will discuss what you can expect when visiting Kunstmuseum Bern.

Image of Kunsthaus Bern by

Overview: Kunstmuseum Bern

Image of Kunsthaus Bern by

Kunstmuseum Bern is a Swiss fine arts museum located in the city of Bern near the train station. Although it is largely at the edge of the old town and close to the Aare River, it is only a ten-minute walk away from the Zytglogge Clock Tower.

Established in 1879, this Neo-Renaissance style art museum exhibits and collects art from all over the world. Architect Karl Ludwig Eugen Stettler designed it.

Since 2015, Kunstmuseum Bern has been managed jointly with Zentrum Paul Klee.

My Experience at Kunstmuseum Bern

Though the museum is quite small, especially in comparison to Kunsthaus Zurich or Plateforme 10 in Lausanne, I liked both the permanent collection and the temporary collection. Moreover, it was very affordable at CHF 10, so it seemed like a great deal to me.

Image of Der Staubbach im Lauterbrunnental by Franz Niklaus König, Kunsthaus Bern by

One of the things I liked about this museum was that its permanent collection showcased some of Switzerland’s most beautiful natural landscapes. In particular, the painting of Lauterbrunnen by Franz Niklaus König was realistic and incredibly beautiful. I also really liked the Matterhorn painting by Gabriel Loppé.

There are some examples, such as:

Der Staubbach im Lauterbrunnental, 1804Franz Niklaus KönigStaubbach Waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen
Das Matterhorn, 1867Gabriel LoppéMatterhorn mountain
Thunersee mit Stockhornkette im Winter, 1912/1913Ferdinand HodlerLake Thun and Stockhorn mountain
Genfersee mit Salève und Schwanen, 1914/1915Ferdinand HodlerLake Geneva and Salève mountain
Paintings in Kunstmuseum Bern

Aside from the beautiful paintings of Swiss landscapes that you can find in Kunstmuseum Bern, there are also works by Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, and Augusto Giacometti.

The art museum offers a rich collection of artworks in a well-curated environment, despite its size.

Colorful Katharina Grosse Studio Paintings

Image of a Temporary Exhibit with Katharina Grosse Studio Paintings, Kunsthaus Bern by

While Kunstmuseum Bern is renowned for its extensive collection of art pieces, it also has a temporary collection that changes every few months. Some of these previous temporary exhibitions include Gurlitt, Heidi Bucher, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Ernst Kreidolf, and more.

At the time of my visit, Katharina Grosse’s paintings were on display. As a contrast to the somber mood of the other paintings at the art museum, I also really enjoyed her large, colorful works.

Practical Information for Visiting Kunstmuseum Bern

  • Kunstmuseum Bern is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The museum closes later every Tuesday at 9:00 PM.
  • It costs CHF 10 to get into the museum. There is a separate fee for the temporary exhibitions.
  • Public guided tours cost CHF 5 per person.
  • Audio guides can be rented for CHF 6 per person.
  • There are lockers in the basement to stow away your bag(s).
  • There is an art souvenir shop near the cashier or front desk where you can buy books, souvenirs, and more.
  • When the museum is open, there is a small cafe where you can get snacks and sandwiches.

How to Get to Kunstmuseum Bern

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AddressHodlerstrasse 8 – 11
3011 Bern
TramBern, Bärenplatz (4-min)
BusBern, Bollwerk (2-min)
Bern, Hodlerstrasse (4-min)
Kunstmuseum Bern

Final Thoughts: Kunstmuseum Bern

Visitors to Kunstmuseum Bern enjoy diverse and unique exhibitions showcasing art from different periods and regions of the world.

Image of a Paul Klee Painting, Kunsthaus Bern by

Despite being small, this museum has some inspiring paintings, especially those of Lauterbrunnen and Matterhorn, which give you a better sense of Switzerland. I also appreciated the notes on how the paintings changed hands throughout the years.

Would I recommend Kunstmuseum Bern to others? I think Kunstmuseum Bern is worth a visit if you are in Bern and appreciate art. For something more extensive, Kunsthaus Zurich offers a bigger gallery with more artwork on display.

Art lovers should not miss Kunstmuseum Bern, with its impressive collection, stunning architecture, and convenient location. The museum offers visitors a wide range of artistic styles to choose from.

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Darla is the owner of 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.

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