The world’s oldest democracy, a major financial centre and perpetual armed neutrality – is that the reality of Switzerland, or just a series of clichés? This exhibition sets out to explore those myths and measure them against the everyday lives of the Swiss population, from the 18th century to the present day.
Each room examines a theme that is central to understanding Switzerland, then and now: identity, territory, family and the role of women, but also work and democracy.
Aimed in particular at the younger generations, this new exhibition makes their voices heard and interweaves them with the testimony of those who have helped to build Switzerland’s prosperity since the late 19th century. By way of conclusion, a young audience investigates a myth that is still alive and well today: Switzerland as a “happy” country!
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
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.
Documentation for schools
What is Switzerland?
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
Head of Marketing, Communication & Fundraising
- General Management Swiss National Museum: Denise Tonella
- General Management Château de Prangins: Helen Bieri Thomson
- Project management: Nicole Staremberg
- Curating: Marie-Hélène Pellet et Nicole Staremberg
- Teaching council: Vittorio Di Giacomo, Établissement secondaire Gland – Grand-Champ; Estelle Farine, Établissement secondaire Morges Beausobre; Philippe Guillod, Établissement primaire de Nyon Jura et Prangins; Cédric Rossier,
Établissement secondaire Gland – Grand-Champ; Omar Saffe, Établissement secondaire Gland – Grand-Champ; Justine Wyss, École de la Combe, Prangins
- Texts: Jonathan Fellay, Marie-Hélène Pellet et Nicole Staremberg
- Translations: Claudia Grosdidier, Alessia Schiavon, Geoffrey Spearing
- Text in Easy language: Jonathan Fellay (dir.), Frédéric Kessler/Filipe Machado / Kay Pastor (Atelier 1001 feuilles), France Santi (Textoh.ch)
- Audio visual archives: RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse
- Research and scientific advice: Patrick Auderset et Charles Magnin, Collège du Travail, GenèveBarbara Bühlmann
- Sound: Martin Stricker, studio Le Bruit Qui CourtPatrick
- Direction and production: Eyeshot
- Interviews: Tania Chytil
- Concept and coordination: Sabrina Martinez, Nicole Staremberg (dir.)
- With the participation of: École de la Combe, Prangins; Établissement secondaire Gland - Grand-Champ; Établissement secondaire Morges Beausobre
- Concept and texts: Sabrina Martinez avec l’assistance de Jonathan Fellay, Marie-Hélène Pellet, Matthieu Péry et Ana Vulić
- Game: Sabrina Martinez, Marc Aymon, Flying Koenig: Nicolas Koenig, Nicole Arroyo Gonzalez, Marie-Hélène Pellet; Argolite AG, L’AtelieR: Joël Barret
- Script: Sabrina Martinez
- Management and production:Alain Laesslé Concepts
- Voices: Français: Damien Cochereau, Antoine Juillard, Yacine Marwan; Deutsch: Ilja Rosendahl, Brian Sommer, Wolfgang Zarges; English: John Calvert, Ritchie Clark, Kenny Dunkwu; Italiano: Luigino Bucosse, Antonio Della Rocca, Sergio Sperati
Sound installation «Mix Your Heritage»
- Concept and musical research in collaboration with: Musée d’ethnographie de Genève (MEG) / RTS – Radio Télévision Suisse; Sabrina Martinez
- Interactive design and implementation: [syp·ia], Sébastien Baudet
- Photography: Jörg Brandt et Zvonimir Pisonic; Claude Bornand: Atelier de photographie, Lausanne
- Photographic Archives: Andrea Kunz, Fabian Müller
- Iconographical research (screening): Jonathan Fellay
Exhibition design and graphic design
- Exhibition design: Catnus Sàrl, Catherine Nussbaumer avec l’assistance de Viviane Mentha
- Graphic design (exhibition): Marc Aymon
- Printing: Atelier Richard et PhotoRotation
- Exhibition furniture, Decorator: J. Bodenmann SA, Ballenegger SA, Rachet SA L’Atelier
- Technical management: Philippe Humm (dir.), André Schärer
- Lighting: Gradation GmbH, Claude Hidber
- Communication and marketing: Tatiana Oberson (dir.), Sylvie Nickbarte
- Graphic design (communication): L’Atelier de mon Père, Nyon
- Cultural education and events: Ana Vulić (dir.), Céline Allard, Ines Berthold, Susanna Bühler, Marie-Dominique de Preter, Sylvie Gobbo, Susanna Hurschler, Debra Kinson, Hester Macdonald, Sylvie Nickbarte, Nathalie Pellissier, Killian Perret-Gentil, Matthieu Péry, Ludivine Proserpi, Heidi Rasmussen, Stéphane Repas Mendes, Sian Sibley, Geneviève Suillot, Anne-Capucine Vernain, Laura Weber, Valérie Zanani, Farès Zemzemi
- Web, IT and multimedia terminals: René Vogel (dir.), Alex Baur, Thomas Bucher, Ulrich Heiniger, Pasquale Pollastro, Danilo Rüttimann et Araceli Nicole Arroyo Gonzalez (stagiaire)
- Law: Béatrice Käser
- Administration and finances: Odile Rigolet (dir.), Jacqueline Naepflin Karlen
- Reception: Véronique Laurent Kandem, Elisa Ottiger, Anita Rachetta Bays
- Security: Pedro Schreyer (dir.), Daniel Bärtschi, Raphaël Conrad, Mark Goldschmid, Miguel Gonçalves, Jean-Claude Hunsinger, David Janelas, Sébastien Nobel, Priscilla Repond
Conservation and restauration
- General management of the Centre of collections: Markus Leuthard
- Restoration and installation of exhibits: Véronique Mathieu et Ulrike Rothenhäusler (dir.), Anna Jurt, Iona Leroy, Sarah Longrée, Charlotte Maier, Jürg Mathys, Gaby Petrak, Tino Zagermann
- Logistics: David Blazquez (dir.), Christian Affentranger, Simon D’Hollosy, Markus SchererFrançoise Michel
- External provider: Christian Alder
- Loan services: Laura Mosimann (dir.), Maya Jucker, Samira Tanner, Angela ZeierGaby Petrak (dir.), Thomas Imfeld, Helen Wächter (stagiaire)
- General management: Office fédéral des constructions et de la logistique : Laura Lingen et Gianluca Rigamonti
- Project management: DOM + werkbüro : Thomas Gayraud et Lene Heller
- Plastering and painting: De Cagna Sàrl
- Parquet floors: W. Tisch Reymond SA
- Electric installation: SEIC SA ; Perrin, Spaeth et Associés
RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse
Everyone who contributed to the project and all the lenders:
- Archives contestataires, Genève
- Archives de l’ancien Évêché de Bâle
- Archives de la Vie Privée, Carouge
- Archives fédérales suisses
- Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois – Institut des humanités en médecine
- Château de La Sarraz
- Collège du Travail, Genève
- Commune de Bourg en Lavaux
- Famille Schärer
- Institut für Evolutionäre Medizin (IEM) – Universität Zürich
- Musée cantonal d’archéologie et d’histoire
- Musée international de la croix-rouge et du croissant-rouge
- Schweizerisches Sozialarchiv
For their essential financial support
Association des amis du Château de Prangins: Kirsti de Mestral, présidente