Even though I am a regular visitor of Basel since the 90’s for family reasons, the art scene of the third most populous city of Switzerland continues to amaze me with its liveliness. With a population of approximately 165.000 inhabitants, Basel is home to a plethora of interesting museums, designed by renowned architects, ready to please even the most demanding museum enthusiast.
Last week, I headed to Basel with my 5-year-old daughter to see my sister, who lives there. I had plans to visit a couple of museums, but I was kind of hesitant. Would it be too much for the little one? Will she immediately call the child welfare authorities, if I say “Marc Chagall” out loud? Or even worse: what if her mother finds out I exposed our only offspring to French surrealism? I had no other choice but to handle the matter with extreme cautiousness, otherwise world peace would be in stake.
To my utter surprise and following a couple of short but intense rounds of negotiations, involving ice-cream bribing and a promise to take her see the life-size replica mammoth at the Natural History Museum of Basel, our daughter agreed to accompany me to Fondation Beyeler (designed by Renzo Piano, by the way), my favorite Basel art museum.
Later on, I was even more astonished to watch my daughter admiring Monet’s Water Lilies, a painting occupying a whole wall at the Beyeler.
As promised, our next stop was the Natural History Museum of Basel, an ideal place to spend a few hours with the children on a rainy day.
Right next door is the Museum of Cultures, another brilliant example of modern architecture by the Swiss Herzog & de Meuron (see “Bird’s Nest” Beijing National Stadium, 2008 Olympics). We entered just to have a glimpse at the building from the inside. We were too exhausted for anything else, but the wonderful lady at the museum’s lobby made a strategic mistake. She showed us the catalogue of their current exhibition on Latin America Folk Art pointing out that children love it. Guess who was running up the stairs leaving her starving father behind gasping for breath?
If you ever find yourself in Basel, make sure you visit the Museum of Cultures. Part of the museum is dedicated to the expeditions of Basel anthropologists in places like Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Indonesia, in the beginning of the 19th to the mid-20th century.
It would be a shame not too mention their fantastic shop, selling handicrafts with an edge from Asia, Africa and the Americas. We got a little toy bell for our princess and…
…a necklace for mommy that had to stay in Helsinki:
If you are a museum buff and you are in Basel, here are some more interesting options:
– Vitra Design Museum (This is actually located on the German side of the border, but you can get there easily by bus 55 from the centre of Basel. No border controls.)
…and for the little ladies and gentlemen, a fantasy world of toys in the heart of Basel:
And because I have been away from the blogosphere for quite a while, a “bonus” photo:
Have you ever been to Basel? How did you like it?