Chintz. How a Fabric Conquered the World


The new permanent exhibition Chintz. How a Fabric Conquered the World, interweaves local and global history and considers Switzerland’s links to the wider world. It sheds light on the involvement of many Swiss people in key chapters of the modern period, including industrialisation, the triangular trade, colonisation and slavery.

The exhibition forms part of the new Chintz Centre, which also comprises a study room, a bed of dye plants in the kitchen garden, and a wide range of natural dyeing workshops.

Chintz in Switzerland

Between the 17th and 19th centuries, printed cotton fabrics transformed Switzerland into one of the world’s leading textile-producing nations. Chintz making, along with weaving and spinning, played a key role in the country’s industrialisation and cemented its role in global trade. Yet surviving evidence of this is limited, and often little known.

This multimedia resource is a compilation of records relating to the industry. Designed in partnership with the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, the interactive map documents the various centres of chintz manufacture in Switzerland in the 18th century.


Activities for the public

Come and spend some time with us, we propose a large selection of activities for different target groups.  A motivated and experienced team is awaiting you.

Guided tours can also be arranged outside of the official opening hours upon request.



2 weeks in advance



60 minutes; special arrangements available upon request

Group size


max. 25 people per tour



German, French, Italian and English. Others upon request.




CHF 120 for the guided tour + CHF 8/person admission

Children up to 16 years free.


Indiennes. Un tissu révolutionne le monde!

In French
Published by La Bibliothèque des Arts, 1998, 232 pages and 200 illustrations in colour
ISBN 978-2-88453-216-7

Price CHF/€ 49.- (shipping fees not included)

This book is on sale at the museum shop, in bookstores or can be ordered frominfo.prangins@museenational.ch or +41 (0)22 994 88 90

This lavishly illustrated work of reference offers an overview of the history of chintzes, highlighting the role played by Swiss people in a flourishing industry. The catalogue section includes introductions to the main factories and production sites in Switzerland and France, extensive analyses of the cloths, and thematic presentations.

Chintz. How a Fabric Conquered the World.

Recueil des textes d'exposition
In English
Published by the Swiss National Museum, 2021, 64 pages and 44 illustrations in colour
ISBN 978-3-905875-69-0

Price CHF 15.- (shipping fees not included)

This book is on sale at the museum shop or can be ordered frominfo.prangins@museenational.ch ou au +41 (0)22 994 88 90


What is Switzerland?

published on 3.6.2022

At 14:00 on 18 June, the Château de Prangins – Swiss National Museum opens the doors of its new permanent exhibition What is Switzerland? It sets out to explore the founding myths and clichés of Switzerland, and measure them against the everyday lives of its population from the 18th century to the present day. The young generations also have their say, linking the past to the future of a country of many more contrasts than one might suppose. The vernissage, which is open to the public, will take place in the presence of Vincent Kucholl and Vincent Veillon, as well as pupil-guides from schools in Vaud who took part in the project.

What is Switzerland? looks at a country that is often regarded as the world’s oldest democracy, but is also a major financial centre known for its armed neutrality. The exhibition adopts a thematic approach, exploring subjects such as identity, territory and the mountains, the family and the role of women, consumption and the food industry, work, democracy and neutrality. The picture that emerges is of a Switzerland whose history is rather less consensual and linear than clichés might suggest. With revolutions, strikes, youth revolts, feminist and environmental struggles, it has experienced many periods of tension and division that reveal key societal and political issues at work. Visitors are encouraged to challenge their own views of the country, its representations and its symbols.

The richness of Switzerland’s heritage is displayed through some 300 precious, unusual or everyday objects including an ingot mould, a piece of stone from the Gotthard and a time clock. Historical documents, audio testimonies, previously unseen photos and TV archives offer an account of social and cultural practices, as well as various aspects of political, economic and institutional history. What is Switzerland? is also a multi-sensory experience. While offering plenty to look at and listen to, it also engages the senses of smell and touch with, for example, unusual perfumes and a mixing desk of “typically Swiss” sounds.

The exhibition is aimed at both Swiss visitors interested in seeing another side of their country, and anyone living in Switzerland who wants to learn more about their host nation. Also designed for schools, What is Switzerland? has been created in close cooperation with a committee of teachers and school heads as an educational resource for teachers of history as well as other disciplines including geography, civics, languages and art. To promote inclusivity, the new tour additionally offers texts in simple language.


Project management and curatorship: Marie-Hélène Pellet and Nicole Staremberg


Affiche exposition permanente - La Suisse. C'est quoi?

Ferdinand Hodler, Wilhelm Tell, 1896-1897, huile sur toile, 256 x 196 cm, Kunstmuseum Solothurn, en dépôt de Mme Margrit Kottmann-Müller en souvenir de son mari Dr. Walther Kottmann, 1958

©Musée national suisse

Mix & Remix, Paysage helvétique avec mythes et clichés

Mix & Remix, Paysage helvétique avec mythes et clichés, dessin, 2008. Reproduction LM 182003.1

©Musée national suisse

Jakob Tuggener, Emilie Kunz devant un métier Jacquard

Jakob Tuggener, Emilie Kunz devant un métier Jacquard, album d’entreprise à l’occasion du cinquantième anniversaire de la filature et fabrique de tissus Spinnerei und Weberei Glattfelden (ZH), 1943, . LM 117336.75

©Jakob Tuggener-Stiftung

Élément de mémoire du premier ordinateur des CFF

Élément de mémoire du premier ordinateur des CFF (Chemins de fer fédéraux). IBM 7070, 1961, verre, métal et matière plastique. LM 99137.1

©Musée national suisse

Abraham-Louis Breguet, Pendulette de voyage n°178

Abraham-Louis Breguet, Pendulette de voyage n°178 à répétition des quarts, date et phases lunaires, 1796, bronze doré, Paris. LM 71987

©Musée national suisse

Pussy Hat ou bonnet aux oreilles de chat

Pussy Hat ou bonnet aux oreilles de chat, 2017, laine, Zurich. LM 171912

©Musée national suisse

Scénographie exposition permanente La Suisse. C'est quoi?

Permanent exhibition What is Switzerland? - Entrance

©Musée national suisse

Scénographie exposition permanente La Suisse. C'est quoi?

Permanent exhibition What is Switzerland? - Room In search of identity

©Musée national suisse

Scénographie exposition permanente La Suisse. C'est quoi?

Permanent exhibition What is Switzerland? - Room Peak time!

©Musée national suisse

Scénographie exposition permanente La Suisse. C'est quoi?

Permanent exhibition What is Switzerland? - Room Free and liberated?

©Musée national suisse

Scénographie exposition permanente La Suisse. C'est quoi?

Permanent exhibition What is Switzerland? - Room A food revolution!

©Musée national suisse

Scénographie exposition permanente La Suisse. C'est quoi?

Permanent exhibition What is Switzerland? - Room A time for work and a time for leisure

©Musée national suisse

Scénographie exposition permanente La Suisse. C'est quoi?

Permanent exhibition What is Switzerland? - Room Rights to happiness

©Musée national suisse

Tatiana Oberson

Head of Marketing, Communication & Fundraising

Château de Prangins +41 22 994 88 68 tatiana.oberson@museenational.ch


  • General management Swiss National Museum: Andreas Spillmann
  • General Management Château de Prangins: Helen Bieri Thomson
  • Project management and curatorship: Helen Bieri Thomson, assisted by Barbara Bühlmann and Matthieu Péry
  • Scientific consultancy: Bouda Etemad, Gilles Foster, Aziza Gril-Mariotte, André Holenstein, Bernard Jacqué, Jacqueline Jacqué, Lisa Laurenti, Liliane Mottu-Weber, Giorgio Riello, Béatrice Veyrassat
  • Texts: Helen Bieri Thomson, Barbara Bühlmann, Matthieu Péry 
  • Translations: Alessia Schiavon, Geoffrey Spearing et Sandra Wyss
  • Iconographical research: Barbara Bühlmann
  • Exhibition and graphic design: Flyingkoenig, Vevey
  • Exhibition furniture: Menuiserie Grocq et Goy, La Rippe, Metal-System Diserens Sàrl, Echandens
  • Decorator: Nigro & Fils Peinture Sàrl, Nyon
  • Printing: Meylan publicité and Signage: Concise
  • Technical management: Philippe Humm (dir.), André Schärer
  • Lighting: André Schärer
  • Communication and marketing: Tatiana Oberson (dir.) and Sylvie Nickbarte
  • Graphic design (communication): Plates-Bandes Communication, Lausanne
  • Cultural education and events: Ana Vulic (dir.), Céline Allard, Ines Berthold, Susanna Bühler, Sylvie Gobbo, Mirta Grüter, Susanna Hurschler, Marie-Claire Jahiel Romanet, Debra Kinson, Hester Macdonald, Muriel Marchese, Sylvie Nickbarte, Nathalie Pellissier, Killian Perret-Gentil, Matthieu Péry, Ludivine Proserpi, Heidi Rasmussen, Stéphane Repas Mendes, Sian Sibley, Laura Weber, Valérie Zanani, Farès Zemzemi
  • Workshops on natural dyeing: Nathalie Pellissier
  • Dye plants in the kitchen garden: Stéphane Repas Mendes
  • Web, IT and multimedia terminals: René Vogel (dir.), Ueli Heiniger, Pasquale Pollastro, Danilo Rüttimann and Toni Vu (stagiaire)
  • Multimedia terminals: texts and iconography: Helen Bieri Thomson, Barbara Bühlmann, Matthieu Péry
  • Films: Direction and production: Octuor films production, Vevey – Florian Burion
  • Films: Concept and coordination: Helen Bieri Thomson
  • Films: translations: Clarissa Hull-Gut, Clare McAllister, Alessia Schiavon
  • Films: Experts: Sadakne Baroudi, Thomas David, Mohamadou Dieye, Bouda Etemad, Bettina Giersberg, Aziza Gril-Mariotte, Bernard Jacqué, Reto Jenny, Benjamin Jody, Sibyl Kindlimann, Robert Labhardt, Helen Oplatka, Prasannan Parthasarathi, Xavier Petitcol
  • Audio stations: Florian Burion, Roman Hüben (réalisation) ; Studio Alea Jacta.CH, Jérôme Cuendet (prise de son); Gabriele Bazzichi, Irene Godel, Rachel Gordy, Aurore Jecker, Christoph Lanz, Lucia Placidi, Julien Tsongas, Michel Voïta (voix)
  • Legal: Beatrice Käser
  • Administration and finance: Odile Rigolet (dir.) and Jacqueline Naepflin Karlen
  • Reception: Susanne Hurschler, Véronique Laurent Kandem and Anita Rachetta Bays
  • Security: Pedro Schreyer (dir.), Damien Becker, Mohamed Bouchatta, Raphaël Conrad, Mark Goldschmid, Jean-Claude Hunsinger, Priscilla Repond


  • General management of the Centre of collections: Markus Leuthard
  • Project coordination: Françoise Michel, Elke Mürau
  • Conservation/restoration and preparation of exhibits: Nikibarla Calonder, Anna Jurt, Elisabeth Kleine, Iona Leroy, Françoise Michel, Carolin Muschel, Sarah Longrée, Ulrike Rothenhäusler
  • Frame construction: Studio Arte, Zürich

  • Logistics and installation of exhibits: David Blazquez (dir.), Christian Affentranger, Simon d’Hollosy, Reto Hegetschweiler Markus Scherrer

  • Loan services: Bernard Schüle (dir.), Maya Jucker, Angela Zeier
  • Lender: Musée Théodore Monod d'art africain, Dakar
  • For their essential support: Hirzel-Stiftung


To all people and institutions who have contributed to the project

  • Archives cantonales vaudoises

  • Archives d'État de Genève

  • Archives de l'État de Neuchâtel

  • Archiv Streiff, Glarner Wirtschaftsarchiv

  • Bernisches Historisches Museum

  • Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire, Fribourg

  • Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire, Lausanne

  • Bibliothèque de Genève, Centre d’iconographie

  • Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon

  • Bibliothèque publique et universitaire, Neuchâtel

  • Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse

  • Historisches Museum Basel

  • Historisches Museum Thurgau

  • Institut National Genevois

  • Musée de l’Areuse

  • Musée d’art et d’histoire de Genève

  • Musée d’art et d’histoire, Neuchâtel

  • Musée de l’impression sur étoffes, Mulhouse

  • Musée d’histoire de Nantes, Château des ducs de Bretagne

  • Musée de la Toile de Jouy

  • Musée historique, Lausanne

  • Musée historique de Vevey

  • Musée Théodore Monod d’art africain, Dakar

  • Museum Bischofszell

  • Museum des Landes Glarus

  • Museum Rietberg

  • Nouveau Musée Bienne

  • Staatsarchiv Kanton Aargau

  • Staatarchiv Kanton Basel-Stadt

  • Staatsarchiv Kanton Thurgau

  • Zentralbibliothek Zürich

  • Fanny Abbott, Aurélie Allais, Philippe de Bosset, Claude Bornand, Werner Bosshard, Romain Bourgeois, Rahel Büchli, Tamara Chanal, Pierre Conne, Mohamadou Mustapha Dieye, Frédéric Elsig, Géraldine Galfetti, Bettina Giersberg, Aziza Gril-Mariotte, Krystel Gualdé, Martin Hampel, Bernard Jacqué, Romain Jurot, Lisa Laurenti, Frédéric Laux, Vincent Lecourt, Laurence Margairaz, Ernest Menolfi, Isabelle Mercier, Malick Ndiaye, Helen Oplatka, Xavier Petitcol, Alain Peyrot, Margret Ribbert, Mylène Ruoss, Christian Sonderegger, Daniel Suter, Toni Vu