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Extension/rebuilding of the MUSEUM DER KULTUREN at Basel
Spectacular architecture for a spectacular collection

The MUSEUM DER KULTUREN at Basel is regarded as the biggest one of its type in Switzerland and is also well-known outside the national boundaries. As of January 2009, the institution was extended by a new hall according to the plans of the internationally renowned architect’s office Herzog & De Meuron, and the entrance zone was redesigned. The culmination of the measures, in the true sense of the word, was a new attic floor which was built on top of the building facing the courtyard of the architects Vischer&Söhne from 1917.

Striking new symbol
This attic floor, which is unusual in several respects, has soon become a striking symbol. For the cladding, three-dimensional ceramic elements were created, which were supplied by the German architectural ceramics specialist AGROB BUCHTAL. These elements are an abstracted contemporary interpretation of the plain tiles of the historical “roof landscapes” of Basel. This approach is also picked up by the colours: glazed in an alternating green-black shade, they lend the roof a distinctive and noble look. Thanks to the special shaping of the concave, convex and flat tiles, attractive effects arise - depending on the incidence of light, the time of day and the viewpoint - which have one thing in common: they attract the glances of the observer almost as if by magic, no matter whether looked at from below from the pedestrian perspective or from the top of the Münsterhügel.

Each of the ceramic elements is individually fixed on a metal substructure mounted on supports and can also be individually removed later if, for example, the access to the water-containing layer underneath should be required. For this, a proven fastening system of AGROB BUCHTAL was project-specifically modified and further developed. The installation work was carried out by the experienced specialist company Wittenauer from D-77880 Sasbach, which - similar to AGROB BUCHTAL - has specialized in “challenging cases“ and also disposes of high competence in this sophisticated sector.

Investment in the future
With the building measures carried out, the MUSEUM DER KULTUREN underlines its impressive “inner worth“ also by its outward appearance and demonstrates its leading role. The institution rich in tradition was founded in 1849 as universal museum in place of the Augustinian monastery on the Basel Münsterhügel. Later, in 1904, a section for folklore was established, which became an independent museum in 1917. In 1944, the renaming to MUSEUM FÜR VÖLKERKUNDE and SCHWEIZERISCHES MUSEUM FÜR VOLKSKUNDE took place. Since 1996, the name of the institution has been MUSEUM DER KULTUREN. The intention behind this naming also was to express the shift of the focus from purely conveying an impression of foreign cultures to the cross-cultural interchange. The supporting public authority of the institution is the Canton Basel-Stadt under the committed and competent direction of Mrs. Dr. Anna Schmid.

In the course of time, the collection has grown and become one of the most important ones in Europe with more than 300,000 objects - of which only a fraction can be publicly shown due to lack of space. The museum is impressive not only because of this rich fund of objects, but also because of sensational special exhibitions. Typical examples of the last years were:

–    “Feasts in the light: the religious variety of a town“
–     “Urbane Islam: between mobile phone and Koran“
–     “Red: when colour becomes the offender“. /

Werner Ziegelmeier (Head of Public Relations)
Phone: +49 (0)9435 / 391-33 79
Mobile: +49 (0)160 / 90 52 71 59
Fax: +49 (0)943 / 391-30 33 79

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The structural changes were planned by the internationally renowned architect’s office Herzog & de Meuron. The MUSEUM DER KULTUREN now underlines its impressive “inner worth” also by its outward appearance. Visible in the background: the red tower of the town hall as another proof for the prominent and exposed position of the museum.

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The three-dimensional ceramic elements, which were supplied by the German architectural ceramics specialist AGROB BUCHTAL, are an abstracted contemporary interpretation of the plain tiles of the historical “roof landscapes” of Basel.

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