Bern Historical Museum: Explore Its Timeless Treasures

bern historical museum

I decided to spend a few hours exploring the Bern Historical Museum on a recent trip to the stunning UNESCO city of Bern. The museum is epic in proportions with a wide range of exhibitions from past to present, and an Einstein Museum thrown in for good measure.

Yes, this is the second-largest historical museum in the country, and it has a treasure trove of artifacts, exhibits, and information on the history of Bern and the world.

With a collection that has exploded in size since the museum’s founding in 1889, you’ll find over half a million objects that cover topics such as

  • history
  • archaeology
  • ethnography
  • numismatics.

As well as these fascinating exhibits, check out the contemporary 1,200 m² space that showcases exciting, rotating exhibitions, offering new insights and discoveries at every visit. Yes, you can never get tired of coming to the Bern Historical Museum! However, you just might get sore feet like I did, there is so much to see!

Visitor Information

AddressHelvetiapl. 5, 3005 Bern (Google Maps)
Opening HoursTuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm
Closed on Mondays
Entrance FeeThe majority is accessible by wheelchair, special side entrance is available to avoid the front stairs
DiscountsSwiss Museum Pass, Museums-PASS-Musées, Museumscard Bern 24h, Kultur GA
AccessibilityThe majority of the exhibitions are accessible by wheelchair
A specific side entrance is available to help avoid the front stairs
Public TransportTram 6, 7, 8 & Bus 6A, M76 to Helvetiaplatz
ParkingSome street parking in the area
The closest parking garage is at the Casino
Details of the Bern Historical Museum

Getting There

Getting to the museum is easy by public transport as it is only about 5 minutes from Bern bahnhof by Tram (6,7 or 8 to Helvetiaplatz). From there, it is a short minute’s walk to the front door of the museum.

By car is a bit more complicated because traffic is not easy in big cities and you also have to find a car park. The nearest big car park is back across the bridge at the Casino. There is some street parking in the neighborhood, but in my experience, this is not to be relied upon for free spots.

Permanent Exhibitions

Einstein Museum

In the Einstein Museum, you will discover the life and work of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Albert Einstein. The museum houses a fascinating collection of personal items, scientific documents, and interactive displays to engage and educate visitors.

Bern and the 20th century

This exhibition showcases the events, developments, and transformations that have taken place in Bern and Switzerland during the 20th century. You will learn about the political, economic, and social changes that have shaped the city and its people during this dynamic period.

Captured Treasure – Court art in Bern (1250–1520)

This exhibition transports you back in time, showcasing magnificent court art treasures from the Bernese ruling families between 1250 and 1520. You will marvel at the exquisite craftsmanship and intricate detail of the items displayed, including jewelry, tapestries, and sculptures.

Stone Age, Celts, Romans

Travel further back in time, exploring Bern’s prehistoric past through artifacts and displays from the Stone Age, Celtic, and Roman periods. Discover the ancient peoples and their lifestyles, admire intricate artifacts, and understand the foundations of the city and region that would become Bern.

From the Middle Ages to the Ancien Régime

This exhibition traces the development of Bern from the Middle Ages to the Ancien Régime. Explore the cultural, architectural, and artistic evolution of Bern, and understand how the city’s complex history and shifting power dynamics have shaped its identity.

Glory and Decline of the Ancien Régime

The Glory and Decline of the Ancien Régime exhibition illustrates the rise and fall of the ruling class during this period of history. Examine the artwork, furniture, and decorative items that tell the story of the influential families and political elite who once held power in Bern.

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By visiting these exhibitions, you will gain an understanding and appreciation of Bern’s rich and multifaceted history.

History of the Museum

The Bern Historical Museum, designed by Neuchâtel architect André Lambert, was constructed in 1894. As the second-largest historical museum in Switzerland, it holds collections related to the history of Bern from prehistoric times to the present, as well as artifacts from Asia, Oceania, and various cultures.

When I was exploring the museum, I could see how it has grown significantly since its foundation in 1889. The breadth, depth, range and number of things to see is stunning. Although they initially on history, archaeology, ethnography, and numismatics, the collections have expanded to hold approximately 500,000 objects today.

The museum underwent an extension in 2009, which added modern facilities to the original building. As a result, the museum now offers enhanced exhibition spaces and improved visitor experiences.

Special Exhibitions and Events

At the Bern Historical Museum, you can explore a variety of special exhibitions and events throughout the year. One such exhibition, running from January 26, 2023, to August 13, 2023, is the “Rausch – Extase – Rush”. This exhibition delves into the cultural and historical aspects of various euphoric experiences.

Another noteworthy event to mark on your calendar is the 125th anniversary of YB, the famous Swiss football club. The jubilee exhibition takes place from May 11, 2023, to January 7, 2024, celebrating the rich history and achievements of the team.

In addition to these special exhibitions, the museum offers ongoing attractions such as the Einstein Museum, which tells the story of the Nobel-prizewinning physicist’s life and work. The Einstein Museum is an integral part of the Bern Historical Museum and one of its most popular permanent exhibitions.

These exhibitions are continually changing, so there is always something new and exciting to see during your visit to the museum.

Remember to take advantage of the museum’s regular programming, such as the Family Atelier events held on Sundays. I love these kinds of events because they offer special workshops and activities for children and families, allowing you to dive deeper into the museum’s exhibits and experience the history first-hand. Normally history is boring for kids, but these kinds of things bring it alive, which I love.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Swiss Travel Pass accepted?

Yes, the Swiss Travel Pass is accepted at the Bern Historical Museum. With the Swiss Travel Pass, you can gain free entry to the museum. Just make sure to bring your valid pass with you during your visit.

Which other museums are nearby?

There are several other interesting museums nearby, such as the Albert Einstein Museum, which is located within the Bern Historical Museum itself. Other nearby museums include the Natural History Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Communication Museum.

Are there any special exhibits?

Yes, the museum frequently hosts special exhibits and events. For instance, from June 12, 2023, they are offering special exhibitions for school classes. To know more about the upcoming exhibitions and events, visit their official website.

What is the nearest public transport?

The nearest public transport to the Bern Historical Museum is the tram stop at Helvetiaplatz. You can take tram line 6, 7, 8 or 9 to the tram stop which is just a short walk away from the museum entrance.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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