Royal Savoy Hotel
If you think Switzerland is only about mountains, chocolate and fondue, check out the vibrant Swiss art scene dotted with world-class museums and collections.
Travelers are drawn to Switzerland for the skiing, natural beauty and quaint towns, but this tiny country is making a splash in the art scene with several ambitious projects joining already thriving cultural institutions.
Rendering by Estudio Barozzi Veiga
With an investment of nearly $200 million, Platform 10 will be a cultural hub, bringing the city’s three best museums together in one facility to showcase Swiss art at its finest.
NEW ARTS DISTRICT
Parlez vous tres bien art? In Lausanne, they speak French, and they’re speaking art in a big way with the creation of the ambitious Platform 10.
This new cultural district is coming to life on previously inaccessible land right by the main train station. With an investment of nearly $200 million, Platform 10 will be a cultural hub, bringing the city’s three best museums together in one facility to showcase Swiss art at its finest.
Rendering by Estudio Barozzi Veiga
The first building, housing The Cantonal Museum of Fine Art (MCBA) opens this October. The museum was founded in 1841 and focuses on works from the 18th Century to post-Impressionism with a focus on Cubism and local abstract artists. In two years The Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts (MUDAC) and the Musée de Elsyée will join it in a second building.
The MUDAC has one of the best contemporary glass collections in Europe, and the Musée de Elsyée has a collection of more than one million phototypes, including the complete archives of Charlie Chaplin. Platform 10 will give all three museums the space they need to display the breadth of their collections.
Royal Savoy Hotel
To explore the thriving art scene, make the Royal Savoy hotel your base in Lausanne. The 1909 Art Noveau hotel was once the exiled home of the Royal Family of Spain, and now it can be your luxury refuge. The hotel went through an extensive $100 million renovation a few years ago and now boasts 196 rooms and suites and a brasserie with a Michelin Plate designation. Don’t miss the Sky Terrace bar with its view of Lake Geneva—the perfect perch in good weather.
The private museum is the brainchild of billionaire art collector and entrepreneur Grażyna Kulczyk and focuses on the contribution of women in art and science.
SHHH, THE SECRET IN SUSCH
A small town with a little more than 200 people is not the place you’d expect a world-renowned Swiss art museum, but with the January opening of Muzeum Susch, it happened. The private museum is the brainchild of billionaire art collector and entrepreneur Grażyna Kulczyk and focuses on the contribution of women in art and science. Housed in a restored 12th Century monastery and brewery, with more than 16,000 sq. ft. of space, the museum features works from Kulczyk’s collection, as well as art from other institutions. The museum hosts two to three exhibitions per year.
Since Susch is such a small town, your best bet for accommodations lie in nearby St. Moritz at the Kulm Hotel, which just completed a renovation, or the all-suite Carlton Hotel.
Photo by Mihai-Bogdan Lazar
BERN BABY BERN
The capital of Bern is the reigning hub of the top art museums and galleries in Switzerland. Arguably, the Zentrum Paul Klee, which celebrates the famous Bern artist, is the top art outlet in the city. The museum houses more than 4,000 of the most important drawings, paintings and watercolors the artist produced during his career. In 2020 the museum will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Klee’s death with a celebration.
The Museum of Fine Arts is the oldest art museum in Switzerland with a collection, dating to the Middle Ages. The museum also features works by Klee in addition to Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler and Meret Oppenheim.
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The five-star, 160-year-old Hotel Schwizerhof is the place to stay in the city. While the exterior reflects the hotel’s history, the 99 rooms and suites have a very modern esthetic. During its long history, the hotel has hosted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren. The hotel was legendary for its parties, so it’s no surprise that 50 years ago James Bond stopped by to film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Stay in the suite where the filming took place or opt for the loft-style signature suite on the hotel’s top floor.
The hotel plays on the artistic offerings of Bern with a collection of more than 100 reproduction Klee paintings scattered throughout the property. During Bern’s Gallery Weekend held in January, local artists are invited to turn several hotel rooms into works of art. The hotel’s Jack’s Brasserie has won the country’s best Weiner schnitzel award two years running. Like it’s sister hotel in Lausanne, the Sky Terrace here affords incredible views of the capital.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
Sometimes the best art is the beauty created by Mother Nature, and that’s what you get when you gaze in any direction from the Burgenstock Resort. Perched above Lake Lucerne, the vistas are arguably some of the best in this gorgeous country. Take Europe’s highest outdoor elevator, the Hammetschwand, to hiking trails that will take you double the time to walk, as you stop to snap a picture every few steps. At the resort, the best view of the area is found from the Alpine Spa’s infinity pool.
The Burgenstock Resort dates to 1873, and in 2017 was completely reimagined and reinvented with two five-star hotels—The Burgenstock and the wellness-focused Waldhotel, the four-star Palace Hotel and the charming Swiss-chalet Taverne. The resort offers nine restaurants, including the Michelin-star RitzCoffiier. The Waldhotel spa offers standard spa services and a full medi-spa. The Alpine Spa is all about sheer indulgence and relaxation.
The Palace Hotel has a collection of original and reproduction art scattered throughout the hotel, and a self-guided tour is available.
Museum Sammlung Rosengart
While you may not want to leave the resort, art lovers who venture to Lucerne will be rewarded at the Museum Sammlung Rosengart. Art collector and dealer Angela Rosengart created this Swiss art museum. Rosengart was a close friend of Pablo Picasso, and in fact is the muse in five of the artist’s paintings. There are also extensive photographs of Picasso at work by photographer David Douglas Duncan. It’s one of the most comprehensive collections outside a dedicated Picasso museum to be seen.
The museum also has extensive works by Klee, with the collection rounded out by other impressionist and classic modernist masters. For art lovers that have seen the iconic museums of Europe, it’s time to put Switzerland and its art scene on your must-view list.
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