Basel, in Northwestern Switzerland, is a city of museums. As many as 40 of them dot the city, and they span the entire gamut – from staid and proper to quirky and playful. Whether you’re a history buff, connoisseur of art, or music aficionado, there’s bound to be a museum to suit your tastes. These are the 10 best to keep an eye out for as you plan your trip to beautiful Basel.
Kunstmuseum, St. Alban-Graben
Home to the world’s oldest public art collection, the Kuntsmuseum offers free entry to art aficionados interested in taking in Europe’s rich art heritage. From the timeless Old Masters to more recent Classical Modernism pieces, the exhibits span across five centuries and specialize in specific regions and artists of Europe and the USA. The museum also offers a restaurant with classic bistro-style cuisine for visitors.
Address: St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Timings: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday; please check here for when you can enter free of charge
Fondation Beyeler, Baselstrasse
For those more interested in modern and contemporary art, the Fondation Beyeler’s elegant campus just outside Basel is the perfect destination. The museum’s collection is renowned for its quality and curation and is showcased in a manner designed to create a comprehensive experience for visitors. An airy restaurant and quirky gift shop round out the space, making it a worthwhile trip for all.
Address: Baselstrasse 101, 4125 Basel, Switzerland
Timings: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday; open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays
Museum Tinguely, Paul Sacher-Anlage
If pizzazz and commotion are more to your taste than the average museum exhibit, then the Museum Tinguely might be worth a stop. Its flagship is a permanent collection of artist Jean Tinguely’s works; an artist famed for his abstract pieces utilising kinetic motion that subvert traditional expectations of art. From giant clockwork parts to screaming fire alarms, this museum is sure to give your senses a treat.
Address: Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, 4002 Basel, Switzerland
Timings: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday
Another port of call for contemporary art lovers is Schaulger, a space and institute that combines exhibition with research, education, and events. This museum is unique in that it offers several carefully designed guided tours aimed at visitors with varying levels of familiarity with art. Be sure to check ahead, as the space is typically closed unless an event or exhibition is taking place.
Address: Ruchfeldstrasse 19, 4142 Münchenstein, Switzerland
Timings: timings vary based on events and exhibitions; more information here
Vitra Design Museum, Charles-Eames-Straße
Understanding the uniqueness of this museum requires looking no further than the building that houses it. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the building is a sprawling contemporary masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of shape and space. Inside, you’ll find exhibits on the history, process, and cultural relevance of design.
Address: Charles-Eames-Straße 2, 79576 Weil am Rhein, Germany
Timings: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Dollhouse Museum, Steinenvorstadt
We may not live in a Barbie world, but the Dollhouse Museum is an excellent place to catch a glimpse of what it may be like if we did. With the world’s largest collection of toys, arranged across four floors in carefully curated vignettes and special exhibits, there’s more than ample reason to bring out your inner child.
Address: Steinenvorstadt 1, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Timings: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday
Paper Museum, St. Alban-Tal
Ever wondered how paper comes to life? Well, here’s your chance to find out. Alongside its exhibits and guided tours, the Paper Museum offers immersive hands-on workshops in all aspects of the papermaking, printing, and bookbinding process. From age-old manuscripts to vintage typewriters, this museum is a booklover’s dream.
Address: St. Alban-Tal 37, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
Timings: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, and Sunday; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday
Museum of Cultures, Münsterpl.
Set in a handsome neoclassical mansion, the Museum of Cultures is one of the most eminent anthropological museums in all of Europe with a collection of artefacts spanning Europe, Mesoamerica, Southeast Asia, and more. Walk through the eclectic collections or take a workshop, offered for adults, families, and children - and perhaps stay late for a sublime picnic concert by the Basel Symphony Orchestra.
Address: Münsterpl. 20, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Timings: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday
Cartoonmuseum Basel, St. Alban-Vorstadt
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the Cartoonmuseum is a veritable treasure trove of them. Dedicated to the art of narrative drawing, the museum’s collection of over 10,000 works by Swiss and international artists is world-renowned for its depth and breadth. Spend a few hours taking in the curated exhibitions centred around themes and artists.
Address: St. Alban-Vorstadt 28, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
Timings: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday
Music Museum, Im Lohnhof
The Musikmuseum is home to Switzerland’s largest collection of musical instruments, with three floors showcasing five centuries of local and European music culture. Set in a former convent turned prison, the museum makes use of the space’s legacy to enhance the visitor’s experience. From ancient drums to prized concert violins, you’re in for a unique aural treat.
Address: Im Lohnhof 9, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Timings: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday