Museum Concept+41 (0)61 205 86 24 oder
Basel Historical Museum collects and conserves key parts of Basel’s cultural heritage from its origins to the present. It enables members of the public to experience original artefacts, while providing insights into their historical and artistic context. It participates in public discourse on the development of culture past and present, and provides the city with an added tourist attraction.
The Collection as Rootstock
The main focus of the museum’s collection is on Basel itself and the surrounding region, although its cultural “catchment area” covers all of Central Europe. It houses a wide range of high-calibre artefacts and works of art from walks of life both sacred and secular, as well as several self-contained collections such as the Basel Cathedral Treasury dating back to the 11th century and the 16th-century Amerbach Cabinet. Many of its archaeological finds and items in the Coin Cabinet predate the Christian era, while some of its most recent acquisitions date from our own times. There are also various special collections (of musical instruments, Meissen porcelain, clocks and watches) of worldwide renown. The collection is the subject of ongoing research projects conducted both internally and externally with the museum’s support.
Exhibitions, Lectures and Tours
Basel Historical Museum is spread over four separate sites, all of which are historical buildings in their own right and representative of a certain period or a certain aspect of the city’s history. The permanent exhibitions they house offer a representative cross-section of the museum’s holdings, ranging from the history of Basel itself to more general themes such as the history of collecting (in cabinets of curiosity, for example), and areas that have since become museums in their own right, such as the history of domestic life at the Haus zum Kirschgarten, the history of music at the Museum of Music, and the coaches and carriages on show at the Carriage Museum. In addition, regular special exhibitions are held to cover specific themes or periods that are either underrepresented or not represented at all in the permanent exhibition. Basel Historical Museum attaches great importance to reaching out to as wide an audience as possible. It therefore provides a broad range of tours, lectures and events for all ages and for the most diverse sections of society.
Basel Historical Museum is one of five major state-owned museums belonging to the Canton Basel-Stadt. As all five museums grew out of the public collection first founded in 1661, they are committed to the tradition of one of the world’s oldest civic collections. The crystallization of five separate museums in the first half of the 19th century resulted in the formation of the Medieval Collection in 1856. This in turn led to a new museum concept based on the academic study of ancient history and the history of culture, and in 1892 to the founding of a Historical Museum housed in the Barfüsser Church. The museum’s initiator, the German scholar Wilhelm Wackernagel, modelled the new museum on what was then the largest historical museum in the German-speaking world, Nuremberg’s Germanisches Nationalmuseum founded in 1852. Basel Historical Museum is thus a historical museum of both regional and international significance.
The legal framework for Basel’s museums is provided by the Museums Act of the Canton Basel-Stadt, passed in the year 2000. The mission and future development of each institution are governed by individual agreements. The inalienability of the collections as the property of the canton and university attests to the museums’ common origins, while ensuring their continuity in future years.
The museums’ running costs are covered by state funding, while investments, research projects, and other activities all require additional support. The museum is thus dependent both on donations from private patrons and on the generosity of charitable foundations. Permanent, ongoing support is provided by the Stiftung für das Historische Museum Basel (Basel Historical Museum Foundation) founded in 1968 and the Verein für das Historische Museum Basel (Basel Historical Museum Society of Friends) founded in 1892.