Museum der Kulturen
Herzog & de Meuron
The Museum der Kulturen Basel dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Replacing the Augustinian monastery on the Münsterhügel the classicist building by architect Melchior Berri opened in 1849.
The "Universal Museum", as it was then called, was the city's first museum building. An extension by architects Vischer & Söhne was added in 1917.
Consisting of irregular folds clad in blackish green ceramic tiles, the roof resonates with the medieval roofscape in which it is embedded while functioning at the same time as a clear sign of renewal in the heart of the neighborhood.
The hexagonal tiles, some of them three-dimensional, refract the
light even when the skies are overcast, creating an effect much
like that of the finely structured brick tiles on the roofs of the
old town. The steel framework of the folded roof allows for a
column-free gallery underneath.
Up until now, the Museum der Kulturen and the Naturhistorisches
Museum shared the same entrance on Augustinergasse. The former is
now accessed directly from Münsterplatz through the previously
inaccessible rear courtyard, the Schürhof. The courtyard, in its
patchwork setting of the backs of medieval buildings, has now
become an extension of the Münsterplatz.
Part of the courtyard has been lowered and an expansive, gently inclined staircase leads down to the Museum entrance. Hanging plants and climbing vines lend the courtyard a distinctive atmosphere and, in concert with the roof, they give the Museum a new identity.
The weighty, introverted impression of the building, initially concealing its invaluable contents, is reinforced by the facades, many of whose windows have been closed off, and by the spiral-shaped construction for the hanging vegetation mounted under the eaves of the cantilevered roof above the new gallery.
This is countered, however, by the foundation, which is slit
open the entire length of the building and welcomes visitors to
come in. These architectural interventions together with the
vegetation divide the long, angular and uniform Vischer building of
1917 into distinct sections.
Designed to house both the sciences and the arts, the Museum der Kulturen, with holdings of some 300,000 objects, now holds one of the most important ethnographic collections in Europe thanks largely to continuing gifts and bequests.
Facts about Museum der Kulturen
Building Footprint: 1,209 m2 (existing)
Gross Floor Area (GF): 6,350 m2
Construction lot 1:
Stiftung Museum der Kulturen, Basel
Client Construction lot 2 and 3:
Kanton Basel-Stadt; c/o Hochbau- und Planungsamt, Basel
Pierre de Meuron
Martin Fröhlich (Associate)
Herzog & de Meuron Team 2001-2004:
Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Christine Binswanger
Jürgen Johner (Associate)
Gilles le Coultre
Laura Mc Quary
Stiftung Museum der Kulturen & Kanton Basel-Stadt
c/o Hochbau- und Planungsamt
Last updated: December 19, 2013
Pasadena, California, USA