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Kunstmuseum Basel

Controversial? Selected works from the collection

Today: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

21 September 2019 - 05 January 2020

Museums all over the world have recently found themselves put on the defensive by critics who demanded that they justify the presence in their collections of works of art that were regarded, for a variety of reasons, as provocative. The media have brought these challenges to the attention of the public, and the institutions’ responses have not always been even tempered and apt to effectively rebut the accusations.

The Kunstmuseum Basel, too, has many objects that, depending on a viewer’s vantage point, may be seen as controversial. This presentation of art from our collection showcases works, from Old-Master treasures to contemporary art, that prompted critical discussion when they were made or when they were acquired, that still rub some people the wrong way—or have started doing so only now.

The selection reflects important debates over art and its ability to provoke. Rather than narrowly focusing on the—genuine or fabricated—scandals around individual works or artists, we see today’s sometimes vitriolic arguments over art as an opportunity to reconsider well-known as well as less familiar works from a different angle and enrich their discussion with new facets.

Edgar Degas: La tasse de chocolat (around 1900/1905)
Wir sehen die Bögen der Front des Kunstmuseums Basel eine Strasse und im Hintergrund der Neubau des Kunstmuseums

Kunstmuseum Basel

OpenClosed | 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

St. Alban-Graben 16,  4010  Basel

photo: Julian Salinas

Opening Hours

Mo Closed  |  Tu 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM  |  We 10.00 AM - 8.00 PM  |  Th 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM  |  Fr 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM  |  Sa 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM  |  Su 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Carnival 2020

02 March 2020: Closed

03 March 2020: Closed

04 March 2020: Closed

Easter 2020

10 April 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

11 April 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

12 April 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

13 April 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

May Day 2020

01 May 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Ascension Day 2020

21 May 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Whitsun 2020

31 May 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

01 June 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Art Basel 2020

15 June 2020: 10.00 AM - 8.00 PM

16 June 2020: 10.00 AM - 8.00 PM

17 June 2020: 10.00 AM - 8.00 PM

18 June 2020: 11.00 AM - 8.00 PM

19 June 2020: 10.00 AM - 8.00 PM

20 June 2020: 10.00 AM - 8.00 PM

21 June 2020: 10.00 AM - 8.00 PM

Swiss National Holiday 2020

01 August 2020: 10.00 AM - 8.00 PM

Christmas/New Year 2020/2021

23 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

24 December 2020: Closed

25 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

26 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

27 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

28 December 2020: Closed

29 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

30 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

31 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

01 January 2021: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

02 January 2021: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

03 January 2021: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM


The Kunstmuseum Basel consists of three buildings: The Hauptbau, which mainly houses the collection up to Classical Modernism, the Neubau, in which the large special exhibitions have their place, and the Gegenwart, the exhibition house for contemporary art.

The Kunstmuseum Basel’s Hauptbau was completed in 1936 based on plans by the architect Rudolf Christ (Basel) and his colleague Paul Bonatz (Stuttgart), two representatives of a conservative modernism. It was originally conceived solely for the presentation of the museum’s collections. The ground floor now showcases the collection of art from Basel; the mezzanine is reserved for the treasures of the Im Obersteg Collection and exhibitions by the Kupferstichkabinett (the Department of Drawings). The collections of medieval and Renaissance art as well as works from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries can be found on the second floor. The art of classic modernism and European postwar modernism is presented on the third floor. Finally, the Hauptbau also houses the shop and museum bistro (on the ground floor).

In April 2016, the museum inaugurated a third venue across the street from the Hauptbau, to which it is connected by an underground passage: the Neubau by the local architects Christ & Gantenbein. It is designed to accommodate both special exhibitions and presentations of art from the collections. Many elements of the Neubau quote the architectonic idiom of its older sibling across the street. The dialogue between the structures is most readily apparent in the Neubau’s monumental staircase beneath a central circular skylight, the rough scraped plaster in the foyer and stairwell, and the subtle colors of the brick façade. The great special exhibitions are held in the skylighted galleries on the second floor. Treasures from the collection of art after 1950 are presented on the other gallery levels and in the passageway connecting the Neubau to the Hauptbau – with the exception of contemporary art, which is on view at the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart. A branch of the shop in the Hauptbau is located on the Neubau’s ground floor.


Hauptbau | Neubau | Gegenwart

Collection & Exhibition
CHF 16.- Adults over 20 Years
CHF 8.- Teenagers 13-19 Years, Students 20-30 Years, Disabled Visitors with ID, Groups (over 9 people), Baselcard

Special Exhibitions
CHF 26.- Adults over 20 Years (CHF 32.- for more than one Special Exhibition)
CHF 18.- Groups (over 9 people), Freiw. Museumsverein Basel, Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft Basel
CHF 13.- Students 20-30 Years, Disabled Visitors with ID, Baselcard
CHF 8.- Teenagers 13-19 Years

Admission to the Kunstmuseum Basel's collections (Gegenwart, Neubau, Hauptbau) is free Tue-Fri from 17 h.

Free sunday
On the first sunday of the month free entrance in collection and exhibitions. Does not apply for special exhibitions.

Tuesday = Museum day
Every Tuesday you can visit all our exhibitions for only CHF 16 (instead of CHF 32 / CHF 26).

colourkey Free admission

Museums-PASS-Musées Free admission

Swiss Museum Pass Free admission


tram 1/2/15 > Kunstmuseum

Kunstmuseum Basel

Antoni Clavé / James Coignard. Focus Im Obersteg Collection

from 05 September 2018

Catalan native Antoni Clavé was considered one of the most important Spanish artists of the 20th century during the postwar era. Residing in France after 1939, his art was built on artisanal craftsmanship and a notable delight in experimentation with the application and ...
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Kunstmuseum Basel

Ein Basler Blick auf die Moderne. Der Fotoreporter Lothar Jeck 1898–1983

08 October 2019 - 08 March 2020

Wer verstehen will, wie Basel zu einem Zentrum moderner Kunst in der Schweiz wurde, wird nach der Modernisierung der Stadt selbst in derselben Zeit Umschau halten. Fotografien zählen für uns Heutige zu den wichtigsten Zeugnissen dieses in der Zwischenkriegszeit vollzogenen ...
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Kunstmuseum Basel

A Passion for Paintings. Louise Bachofen-Burckhardt: Collecting for Basel

26 October 2019 - 29 March 2020

In autumn 2019, the Kunstmuseum commemorates the 100th anniversary of the death of Louise Bachofen-Burckhardt (1845-1920) by honouring his most important patron at the beginning of the 20th century. For the first time in a long time, large parts of the collection of 305 ...
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Kunstmuseum Basel

Max Sulzbachner. Hustle and Bustle in Basel

26 October 2019 - 08 March 2020

The Kunstmuseum Basel is honouring the versatile work of the Basel artist Max Sulzbachner with a retrospective on the mezzanine floor of the Hauptbau. The focus is on the artist's early works, which were primarily characterized by their proximity to the Red-Blue I group, as ...
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Wir sehen die Bögen der Front des Kunstmuseums Basel eine Strasse und im Hintergrund der Neubau des Kunstmuseums

Kunstmuseum Basel

Luminous Figures. Drawings and Stained Glass Paintings from Holbein to Ringler

01 February 2020 - 26 April 2020

In the sixteenth century, small-format stained glass paintings graced the windows of many a guild room and council hall. The exhibition organised by the Department of Prints and Drawings showcases numerous preliminary drawings as well as finished glass paintings.
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