Mythenrad, Swiss National Museum, Zurich // Photo: Jan Bitter

Ingenious Special Structures for the National Museum in Zurich

The Swiss National Museum in Zurich houses the largest cultural history collection in Switzerland.

July 2009

The exhibition includes all epochs from prehistory to the 21st century. After the basic renovation of the historic building, all rooms of the railway station wing, as well as some areas of the east and west wings on two floors with display areas, display cases and partial conversions were provided by NUSSLI. In the next seven to ten years, the National Museum, which first opened in 1898, will display the permanent exhibitions "History of Switzerland" and "Gallery Collections."
"Gallery Collections" is located on the ground floor and provides an insight into the cultural heritage of Switzerland as well as an overview of the collection activities of the National Museum. A special spatial sculpture has been created for this. It snakes through the entire room and is equipped with many glass cases.  All the technology of the spatial sculpture, as well as its stable steel frame, is hidden beneath the pearlescent shimmering skin. The load distribution is certainly unique in terms of statics. The arrangement of the glass display cases implies that a large part of the net weight of the spatial sculpture is distributed directly across the glass, with no supports or suspensions. No similar applications are known to exist. There are no hinges visible from the outside. All of the structural components have been built into the display cases in such a way as to make them completely invisible.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is the 17 meter high hall of fame on the upper floor of the museum. Another highlight awaits visitors there: An elaborately designed, oblique ramp with numerous display cases. Visitors can explore the development of Swiss policy on the concordant state and experience the pseudo-sacred architecture of the Hall of Fame on an 85-meter long wooden staircase. And that is not all: A slowly rotating, nine meter high Mythenrad sets the scene for the Swiss Mythen: Glue of Nations over the Centuries.
NUSSLI realized the work under the stress of a tight schedule, concurrent renovations and exhibitions and difficult logistical conditions within the building. Strict safety regulations were also in force for this. However, the result is a new museum which clearly presents a very special exhibition in a very special way. An open house will be held for the new exhibition on August 1st.

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