Top 5 Museums in Basel – The Cultural Capital of Switzerland

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Situated at the junction of Swiss, German, and French borders, Basel is a center of culture and history, brimming with theaters and museums which it is pretty proud of, to say the least! No other European city has so many magnificent museums in such a small space. The beautiful city of Basel hosts around 40 museums in just an area of thirty-seven square kilometers.

Yes, you read that right! These museums in Basel cover a wide range of interests, so when in the cultural capital, you must visit at least one of these! Having lived in Basel for over 6 years now, museum hopping is one of our favorite activities. So, in this article, I list down some of the top 5 museums in Basel which remain iconic and are a must visit for everyone!

Before we dive in and look at the my top 5 museums in Basel, we’ve something special to share with you that’ll make your adventures even more fun…

Expert Tips for visiting Museums in Basel : 

– The first Sunday of every month allows FREE entry to the museums in Basel.
– If you have the BaselCard, the card gives you a 50% discount on many attractions including an array of museums in Basel, the Basel Zoo, cruises on the Rhine, a 2 hour tour on the sightseeing bus and a walking tour of the Old Town. So, do keep it handy during your visits.
– Always check the opening hours before visiting. Museums in Basel are usually open 9 am – 5 pm, but be sure to plan your visiting time ahead, so you have plenty of time to enjoy exploring the wonderful museums of Basel.

Now, let’s have a look at the top 5 Museums in Basel that you can plan to visit when you’re in the city.

1. The Natural History Museum of Basel

The Natural History Museum of Basel, Switzerland, has great significance due to its rich heritage of over 300 years. The Natural History Museum Basel collections consist of natural, historical objects from the fields of zoology, entomology, mineralogy, anthropology, osteology, and paleontology. These exceptional ‘Archives of Life’ have been preserved, studied and researched for over 300 years. Whenever we visit, it is usually packed with families and apart from the preserves we also get to enjoy the amused look on the kids’ faces!

Location: NATURHISTORISCHES MUSEUM BASEL, Augustinergasse 2, 4001 Basel

Fee:  CHF 7.00 | BaselCard price: CHF 3.50 (Adults)

Operational Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 – 17:00) , Monday – Closed

2. Foundation Beyeler Museum 

If you’re an art freak, the iconic Foundation Beyeler Museum is a must-visit. What makes it iconic is that it’s housed in a famous building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The Beyeler Museum is home to Hildy and Ernst Beyeler’s modern art collection, which was built up over five decades and ranges from Van Gogh and Monet to Picasso and Rothko. These paintings appear alongside tribal art from Africa, Oceania and Alaska.

Location: Fondation Beyeler, Baselstrasse 101, 4125 Riehen / Basel

Fee:   Visitors below the age of 25 – Free of charge
Adults over 25yrs – CHF 25.00 | Basel Card – CHF 12.50

Operational Hours:  Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Open 365 days a year (including public holidays)

3. Kunstmuseum

Kunstmuseum Basel houses some of the oldest public art collections worldwide with works from the 15th century till today, isn’t that so interesting? This museum in Basel is generally considered to be the most important museum of art in Switzerland and is listed as a heritage site of national significance. The wide yet explicit variety of preserves encompass: paintings and drawings by artists active in the Upper Rhine region between 1400 and 1600, and on the art of the 19th to 21st centuries.

What makes this museum even more special is that Kunstmuseum Basel was home to two of Picasso’s paintings, a private loan from an art collector Peter G. Staechelin. However, in 1967 he got into some financial troubles and decided to sell those paintings. To keep the magnificent artworks in Basel, the people of Basel collected the money themselves and acquired the paintings. They managed to raise the money and paid 8,4 million Swiss Franks for them. Picasso himself was so impressed by that story that he donated another four of his works to the museum.

Please note: The Kunstmuseum Basel has its collection displayed in three buildings. It’s better to do your research in advance and pick up a part of the museum you’d like to visit since it will be impossible to see everything in one go.

Location: Kunstmuseum Basel | Hauptbau, St. Alban-Graben 16, 4010 Basel (Main building)
Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart, St. Alban-Rheinweg 60, 4010 Basel (Other building)

Fee: Adults – CHF 16.00 | BaselCard – CHF 8.00

Operational Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday | 10:00 – 18:00
Sunday, Wednesday, Friday | 10:00 – 20:00
(Monday Closed)

4. Museum Tinguely

Over here, you can discover the world’s largest collection of works by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely. Situated directly on the Rhine, the Museum Tinguely is not your regular museum. What makes it fun is that it’s a highly interactive museum. As a visitor, you could push different buttons and start Tinguely’s machines, play with them and observe them in a way artist intended them to be seen. How cool is that? This on ewill surely get the children hooked for hours 😉 While you’re at it,  don’t forget to visit the Tinguely Fountain right in the Basel city centre. Built in 1977, the fountain consists of ten machine statues made of iron, in constant movement, which can make one stare at them endlessly.

Location: Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, 4002 Basel

Fee: Adults – CHF 18.00 | BaselCard – CHF 9.00

Operational Hours: Open, Tuesday – Sunday: 11:00 – 18:00

5. The Basel Paper Mill

This gem is located in a 500-years-old building that used to serve as a paper mill. The building is still holding up great…shocking, isn’t it? Also known as the Swiss Museum for paper, writing and printing, the collection within The Basel Paper Mill is dedicated to paper making, writing and publishing in general.

If you’re looking to add a fun element to your museum visit, Basel tourism office operates an excellent Sunday brunch tour (50 francs) that includes a tour of the Basel Paper Mill and a delicious brunch at the museum’s restaurant. Set in a lovely canal side paper mill operational for more than 500 years in Basel’s charming St. Alban-Tor neighbourhood, the child-friendly museum offers fun hands-on exhibits that illuminate the history of printing, paper and writing.

Location: St. Alban-Tal 37, 4052 Basel

Fee: Adults – CHF 15.00, Students/AHV/apprentices – CHF 13.00, Children – CHF 9.00 (Up to 16 years)

Operational Hours: Tuesday – Friday (11am – 5pm) , Saturday (1pm – 5pm), Sunday (11am – 5 pm) Monday (Closed)

So, this was our rundown of the top 5 museums in Basel that you should definitely visit! Rest assured, you can trust us on this one 😉 If museums aren’t what you’re looking for other and would like to spend a day like a local, check out our article on How to Spend a Perfect Day in Basel
For expat living content, check out our Expat living section.

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