Museums Walking Tour (Self Guided), Zurich

Zürich has a great number of museums, many of them historical museums displaying the history of Zürich and its citizens and the history of world civilizations. Many exhibit unique objects, documents and artifacts witnessing the past. One of the most interesting is the museum of timepieces from ancient times till the present. Take a look at Zürich's most popular historical museums in this walking tour.
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Museums Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Museums Walking Tour
Guide Location: Switzerland » Zurich (See other walking tours in Zurich)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.3 km
Author: ellen
1
Johann Jacobs Museum

1) Johann Jacobs Museum (must see)

The Johann Jacobs Museum is dedicated to the global interdependencies of our life-world. These interdependencies become especially clear when tracing the history of important trade goods and their transport routes. Products such as coffee, cocoa, petroleum, opium, sugar, silk, watches and diamonds have had a hand in shaping our planet, impacted cultures and revolutionized societies. The museum's programmes and events try to convey a broader understanding of these complex relationships.

Tip:
It's worth checking out the calendar to see what's on display before you go.

Opening Hours:
Tue: 4–9pm; Sat, Sun: 11am–5pm
2
Kulturama Museum of Mankind

2) Kulturama Museum of Mankind

Open since 1978, Zurich’s Kulturama Museum of Mankind provides an interesting look at the 600 million year evolutionary history of animals and humans. It covers topics like human biology and cultural history and represents interesting blend of natural sciences and history through a variety of displays. The museum is divided into different floors with themed exhibits on each. The first floor presents rotating exhibits that focus on biology, history of civilizations and evolution. The second floor features the “Discovery Trail” which provides an interactive environment for kids of all ages to explore concepts related to the human body, animals, evolution and the Stone Age. There is also an exhibit that shows the development of humans from conception to death. The museum has an outreach and education program, and you may see groups of excited school children touring the museum. A cafeteria is located onsite for light meals. There is also a gift shop.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 13 pm - 17 pm; open in the morning for groups by appointment
3
Kunsthaus Zürich

3) Kunsthaus Zürich (must see)

The Kunsthaus is one of the most important museums in Europe. The building was designed by architect Karl Moser and completed in 1910. The facades contain bas-reliefs designed by Oskar Keifer, a long time collaborator with Moser. The collection is impressive and diverse, from pieces dating to the Middle Ages to contemporary ones. Overall, the collection emphasizes Swiss art through various periods. Some of the Swiss artists represented include Fussli, Hodler, Rist and Fischli. Works by Munch, Lipchitz, Van Gough, Picasso, and Giacometti are a draw as well. The museum has a group of works by Monet and another by Chagall.

Specific collections include Swiss Paintings, Swiss Realism, Zurich Concrete Art, and collections featuring paintings and sculptures by Bocklin, Segantini, Hodler, and Vallotton. The museum also has a good collection of video art that started in 1979, with the thought that video art is an independent and creative medium. Video artists represented include Acconci, Baldessari, Calle, Graham, Hill, Marclay, Paik and others. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum features temporary exhibits and a library with books focusing on modern art. An audio guide which highlights over 200 of the pieces in the collection, is available.

Why You Should Visit:
Super modern with lots of unique perspectives! If you're a fan of modern art and appreciate surrealism and impressionism, this museum is a must.

Tip:
Free entry to the main collection on Wednesdays, and you can also get an audio guide for no cost. Their library is open-access anytime.
The building might not look massive on the outside, but the collection is extensive, so make sure you leave at least 2-3 hours to visit.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Wed-Thu: 10am-8pm
4
ETH Zürich Collection of Prints and Drawings

4) ETH Zürich Collection of Prints and Drawings

This collection of drawings was established in 1867 by Gottfried Kinkel, a professor of art history and archaeology. The collection got its start with the acquisition of the Buhlmann collection in 1870, which contained over 11,000 single-leaf prints and another 150 volumes of bound prints. The second significant contribution to the collection was the 12,000 prints donated by Heinrich Schulthess-vonMeiss, a Zurich banker. The collection was opened to the public in 1924, and has continued to grow since. Today there are over 150,000 prints covering a span of 600 years. Prints and drawings of the old masters such as Durer, Rembrandt and Goya are part of the collection. Its main focus continued to be Swiss graphic art. Due to the fine nature of the materials on which the prints and drawings are made, they are only shown for short periods of time. They may be viewed on an individual basis in the study room. The museum is located on the first floor of the south wing of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Admission is free and free guided tours are available, in German, on Mondays at lunch time.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 10 am - 4.45 pm
5
Zoologisches Museum

5) Zoologisches Museum (must see)

The Zoologisches Museum is affiliated with the University of Zurich and features a wonderful collection of species from the Middle Triassic period (230 million years ago). The museum is known for their well-preserved fossils from Monte San Giorgio, a UNESCO world heritage site in Ticino. It has a variety of animals on display, some as a skeletal reconstruction and some that are in taxidermy form. You will see kangaroo, platypus, jaguar, giant clams and more. There is also much to be seen in the microscope area, where you can observe tiny creatures normally invisible to the naked eye. An audio recording section allows you to listen to vocalizations of over 280 avian species. Kids will love the special section dedicated to Swiss marine dinosaurs as well as land dinosaurs, such as Triceratops and skeletons of wooly mammoths. There is a sand pit area where kids can do their own excavations. This museum will keep the kids and adults entertained for at least a few hours. It should be noted that display cases are in German only. Admission is free. There is no café on site, but there is a rest area where you can eat your own food.

Why You Should Visit:
Free is good, especially when you are in Zurich.
Definitely a place that can hold the interest of adults and children alike.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm
6
Swiss National Museum

6) Swiss National Museum (must see)

The Swiss National Museum is one of the key art museums of cultural history in the world. The museum was born out of the desire to create a national museum which would be the treasure of the young federal state of Switzerland; however, support for the museum was initially lukewarm. Nation Councilmember Salomon Vögelin proposed the construction of a national museum, and, after much debate, a site in Zurich was selected. The building that houses the museum was constructed in 1989. Gustav Gull, a Swiss architect and teacher, designed the building to look like a French Renaissance city chateau.

The museum features a wide range of art and the visitor will see a sample from ancient times and the Middle Ages up to 20th-century. Some of the more unique collections in the museum include a gothic art section, liturgical wooden sculpture, carved alters and chivalry-related art. There is also a section on the history of Switzerland that displays traditional costumes and clothing. The section on Swiss furniture design is a nice juxtaposition to the older items in the space. The museum features regularly rotating exhibits.

Why You Should Visit:
To learn about all aspects of Swiss history – from religion, demographics, archeology, industry to even topographical evolution and more.
The archaeology exhibition is particularly impressive thanks to the animated/interactive displays.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-5pm; Thu: 10am–7pm
7
Toy Museum

7) Toy Museum

The Zurich Toy Museum is a popular tourist spot in the city that attracts kids of all ages. Located in Zurich’s old town this museum is popular draw. The museum displays a mix of old and modern toys, with over 1,200 antique toys from all over Europe. The bulk of the collection covers toys from the 18th to 20th century. Visitors will enjoy miniature railroads and steam engine, dolls and doll houses, books, wooden toys, tin figures, old-style games and even small furniture pieces for play, such as stoves and chairs. The delightful craftsmanship of the toys will certainly be appreciated, especially since most toys today are plastic and require batteries. There are also toys and books that children can read and play with. It wouldn’t be any fun to be in a toy museum and not be able to touch anything. Don’t worry, not the case here. Admission is free and you can get through the museum in about an hour. The museum is on the 5th floor of the building, and there is an elevator.

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 14 am - 5 pm; Saturday: 1 pm -4 pm
8
Clock and Watch Museum Beyer

8) Clock and Watch Museum Beyer

The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum in Zurich represents one of the best private collections of time pieces. This is not surprising, since the Swiss are known for their fine craftsmanship when it comes to watches. The museum represents the private collection of Theodor Beyer, from the prominent Swiss family that has owned the Beyer shop since the mid 1700s. The Beyer shop is the oldest watch and clock store in Switzerland. The museum is located in three rooms in the basement of a retail store and has quite an impressive collection of time-keeping devices. The displays are arranged chronologically (how appropriate for a watch museum), starting with rustic, non-mechanical clocks, such as sundials, then going on up to contemporary pocket watches with intricate detail. There are also grandfather clocks, other wall and floor clocks, shepherds clocks and hour glasses. Some particularly unique items in the museum include watches made 100% from hardwood or ivory and an original rolling ball clock. There are other items in the museum that are not directly related to watches, including astronomic and geographical tools. Nominal entry fee for adults and children under 12 are free.

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 2 pm - 6 pm
9
Haus Konstruktiv

9) Haus Konstruktiv

Haus Konstruktiv is the only museum in Switzerland devoted to conceptual and constructive art. It was established in 1986 and has garnered international recognition. Both Swiss and international artists are exhibited, with some works for sale.The foundation promotes "constructive, concrete, and conceptual art and design". The museum also contains a cafeteria and a library.
Operation hours: Tuesday / Thursday – Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm; Wednesday: 11 am - 8 pm; December 25: closed
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Museum Rietberg

10) Museum Rietberg (must see)

The Rietberg Museum in Zürich is the only non-European art gallery in Switzerland. It features works from Africa, Asia and the ancient Americas. The goal of the museum is to make the visitor aware of the diverse type of artistic expression that can be found outside of Europe. The museum was founded on the private collection of Baron Eduard von de Heydt. The physical location of the museum dates back to the purchase of the Rieterpark and Wesendonck Villa, a Renaissance mansion, by the city of Zurich in the 1940s. The museum is located in Reiterpark and stretches across several historic villas. The city purchased the adjacent Shonberg Villa in 1976 and expanded the museum. The Remise Villa and the Rieter Park-Villa were later additions. A fifth building was opened in 2007 and is primarily underground. This building is called The Emerald and features a wall of green glass at the same height as the historic villas. Instead of creating a tall building that would be out of scale, the architects opted for an underground extension. This expansion more than doubled the museum’s space. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum shows rotating exhibits.

Why You Should Visit:
Culture and spirituality from around the world in beautiful surroundings.
Some of the ancient artifacts going back several centuries BC or more are quite impressive.
Various types of decorative arts as well, so everyone is sure to find something to their taste.

Tip:
Admission fee is collected for the collection/exhibition but the garden is free – you may as well spend a whole day on the grass.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Thu-Sun: 10am-5pm; Wed: 10am-8pm

Walking Tours in Zurich, Switzerland

Create Your Own Walk in Zurich

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Aussersihl Area Daily Life Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 km
City Orientation Walking Tour

City Orientation Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 km
Architecture Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 km
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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 km
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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km
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Zürich has many splendid churches and monasteries, which provide an immense spiritual and cultural contribution to the entire country. Many of them played a significant role in the Protestant Reformation. Each church is inimitable in its architecture. Follow this walking tour to become familiar with Zürich's most beautiful religious edifices.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km

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