Bern’s Museums

If you’re looking for a good museum in Bern, you’ll be spoilt for choice: there’s everything from internationally acclaimed special exhibitions to private collections to interactive events. Here’s an overview.

Museum of Communication

Museum of Communication, Helvetiastrasse 16, 3000 Bern

You won’t find any «please don’t touch» signs here: at the Museum for Communication, you are allowed, even encouraged, to try out and interact with the objects! Making communication accessible in an innovative, participatory and playful way – that’s the institution’s motto, and it’s also the reason why the museum was awarded the 2019 Council of Europe Museum Prize.

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«Lights, camera, action!» You will feel like you’re in a movie studio when you reach the station «Movie Karaoke» and start re-enacting a scene from «Lord of the Rings». A bit of stage fright, a hint of movie star – everyone will love the spotlight! It comes as no surprise that «Movie Karaoke» is one of the visitors’ favourites in the Museum for Communication, a museum that is known for its fun exhibitions.

Zentrum Paul Klee

Zentrum Paul Klee, Monument im Fruchtland 3, 3000 Bern

The building by architect Renzo Piano alone is worth a visit, but great architecture is by far not the only thing the Zentrum Paul Klee has to offer! It houses the most important Paul Klee collection in the entire world, showcased in changing exhibitions. The children’s museum Creaviva has interactive exhibitions to give the youngest visitors a fun approach to art.

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At the very back of the Zentrum Paul Klee, below the third arch of the Renzo Piano building, you’ll find a colourful interactive installation by Swiss artists Sabina Lang und Daniel Baumann. You don’t need a ticket, every visitor is welcome to move around inside, outside and on top of the installation, read, listen, climb, watch, chat or just relax and enjoy.

Kunstmuseum Bern

Kunstmuseum Bern, Hodlerstrasse 8, 3011 Bern

The world-famous Museum of Fine Arts Bern, with its works by artists ranging from Picasso and Hodler all the way to Oppenheim, is also one of Switzerland’s oldest art museums. Whether you’re there for the classics or for a special exhibition – at Kunstmuseum Bern, art fans are sure to get their money’s worth.

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Adolf Wölfli (1864–1930) probably didn’t think that his drawings would someday be hanging on a museum wall. Wölfli grew up as a servant and farm hand in the Emmental region and eventually landed in the Waldau mental institution, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In his cell, he filled thousands of pages with drawings, patterns, words and musical notes, creating his own universe. Today, his drawings and collages are collector’s items, exhibited all over the world. They are a highlight at the Kunstmuseum Bern, where they are looked after by the Adolf Wölfli Foundation and shown year-round in different exhibitions.

The Swiss Alpine Museum

Swiss Alpine Museum, Helvetiaplatz 4, 3005 Bern

Topographical maps, fossil finds and geological explanations of how the mountains formed? That would be far too boring for this museum. Instead, it shows every aspect and angle of mountains, looks at the past as well as the present and dares to bring up controversial topics.

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This is a hands-on museum: 1,500 kilograms of wood are waiting to be chopped into shingles. The visitors are encouraged to participate and help shingle parts of the museum in the same traditional way that Swiss alpine huts have been shingled for centuries.

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Bernisches Historisches Museum

Bernisches Historisches Museum, Helvetiaplatz 5, 3005 Bern

One could easily mistake the Bernisches Historisches Museum (Museum of Cultural History) for a castle. But the impressive building on Helvetiaplatz (Helvetia Square) with its ornate oriels doesn’t house a princess, but one of Switzerland’s most important museums of cultural history. In permanent as well as temporary exhibitions, the museum focuses on historical issues that are still relevant to the world today.

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Once a week, the Bernisches Historisches Museum lets you combine history with physical and spiritual wellbeing: every Tuesday at midday, you can participate in a one-hour yoga class, adapted to and combined with a ten-minute introduction to a specific object in the collection. It’s relaxing, inspiring and also suited for beginners. There are changing rooms and yoga mats at the museum. No registration necessary. Namaste!

Naturhistorisches Museum Bern

Naturhistorisches Museum Bern, Bernastrasse 15, 3005 Bern

Every child in Bern knows the Museum of Natural History with the golden elephant on its roof. On the inside, you will find everything from taxidermy of native and African animals and an impressive collection of giant crystals to the huge skeleton of a finback whale. The museum’s exciting and diverse collection has turned many a rainy day in Bern into a little adventure.

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Barry, the legendary Saint Bernard, is probably the museum’s most famous object. The loyal rescue dog lived over 200 years ago in a hospice on the Great St Bernard Pass, almost 2,500 metres above sea level. Crossing the alpine pass was extremely dangerous at the time, and countless people were buried alive by rocks or avalanches or got lost in snowstorms. Thankfully, there was Barry – he was involved in the rescue missions and is said to have saved 40 people. Barry became a Swiss legend and, in 2014, was awarded a permanent exhibition in his honour – golden display included.

Einstein Museum

Einstein Museum, Helvetiaplatz 5, 3005 Bern

This unique museum is part of the Bernisches Historisches Museum (Museum of Cultural History) and houses one of the world’s largest Albert Einstein collections. He spent seven years of his life in Bern, and what he came up with here became world-famous: the theory of relativity. The interesting exhibition presents to the visitors the genius, physicist, husband and father that was Albert Einstein and shows his life and work in the context of world history.

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You should take an especially close look at one of the large photographs on the wall. It was taken in the 1890s and shows little Alberts class at his school in Munich, where his family was living at the time. All of his classmates are making serious faces, as was common and decent at the time. But there’s one boy who’s smiling at the camera: young Einstein. He probably already enjoyed challenging the authorities at that young age - at least that’s what his witty expression suggests.

Kunsthalle Bern

Kunsthalle Bern, Helvetiaplatz 1, 3005 Bern

Where history was made: legendary director Harald Szeemann made this art museum world-famous by letting it be the first building that was covered by artist Christo. It has been and still is an important platform for contemporary art and a mecca for art fans.

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Initially, the bar Module #5 next to the main building was a temporary gift on the occasion of the museum’s 100-year anniversary. But the locals fell in love with the artistic building by Swiss couple Lang/Baumann with its romantic view of Bern’s Old City and the delicious drinks, so the bar will remain until at least 2021. In the warmer months (May to October), all of Bern gathers here for drinks.

Einstein House

Einstein House, Kramgasse 49, 3011 Bern

During his time in Bern, Albert Einstein developed one of the most important and famous theories in the history of physics: the theory of relativity. Even today, you will come across the physicist in various parts of the city, but there’s no place where you’ll get closer to the great scientist than at Einstein House at Kramgasse 49.

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When Einstein was living in Bern, he wasn’t working at the university as a renowned professor, no – he had a very boring job with a low salary at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. It was his job to test the patents and see if they were functional. He called it: being a «third-class ink shitter». But the job meant a stable monthly income, which allowed him to bring his fiancée Mileva Maric to Bern and finally get married.

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Cultural institutions in Bern

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