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Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel

Diversity in the nativity scene

Today: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

16 November 2019 - 09 February 2020

From the Baroque to modern times

Nativity scenes are still an integral part of church and domestic Christmas decorations and are made in all imaginable artistic styles and materials. Before the Christmas tree became widely used in the 19th century, the manger was the focal point of the Christmas decorations.

This unique special exhibition has come about through loans from the monastery of Heiligkreuz in Cham, and from the private collection of Mr. Alfred Dünnenberger. Beautiful nativity scenes from the Baroque, unusual staged nativity scenes and rare figures give insight into the world of nativity scenes. For these reasons, the exhibition will only be shown in Basel.

The initiator of presenting the nativity story in honor of Christmas is St. Francis of Assisi, who replaced the traditional sermon with a Christmas scene of people and living animals in Greccio in 1223. In the Middle Ages very large, solid compositions were created in chapels or behind altars. The events of the Holy Night were illustrated using life-size figures. From the 16th century you find small figures, with which you could re-enact scenes of the Christmas story again and again. Sometimes the different scenes were combined on a spacious landscape with different locations.

By the end of the 19th century, serial production of nativity figures made from relatively inexpensive materials such as terracotta and paper mache allowed less affluent individuals to purchase a nativity scene for their home. A family nativity scene might start with just Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, and be expanded over the years with much time, effort and money. Again and again new figures were added and the scenery was lovingly developed and embellished.

Among the most famous nativity scenes are the Neapolitan mangers from Italy or the French Santons, Provençal nativity figures, in painted clay or terracotta. Every region and epoch has a traditional scene. These can be landscape scenes, stable scenes, temple scenes, root scenes, relief scenes or eastern scenes. The materials used also vary widely: wax, terracotta, clay, wood, glass, paper mache, paper, cardboard, tin, straw, lead or tin. The main characters in a nativity scene are the baby Jesus in a manger, Mary and Joseph, ox, donkey, shepherd and sheep, the Three Wise Men from the East with presents, and the Annunciation angel.


Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel

OpenClosed | 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Steinenvorstadt 1,  4051  Basel

Opening Hours

Mo Closed  |  Tu 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM  |  We 10.00 AM - 6.00 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

Museum, Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
Museum, in December, daily from 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Christmas/New Year 2020/2021

23 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

24 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 4.00 PM

25 December 2020: Closed

26 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

27 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

28 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

29 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

30 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

31 December 2020: 10.00 AM - 4.00 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


Toy Worlds Museum Baste

With over 1,000 m2 on four levels, the museum is one of a kind in Europe. lt is located at the heart of downtown Basle and houses the largest collection of antique teddy bears in the world, together with historic dolls, toy grocery stores, dollhouses, carousels, and contemporary miniatures. Visitors from around the world come to marvel at the museum. Special exhibitions on select, fascinating topics are always being featured at the museum. Your own smartphone or tablet can be used as an interactive museum guide. ln-house Wi-Fi makes this service free of charge.


CHF 7.–/5.–
Free admission for children up to 16. Please note that children must be accompanied by an adult

Museums-PASS-Musées Free admission

Swiss Museum Pass Free admission


Barfüsserplatz is just a short stroll of about fifteen minutes from the SBB train station.

Another convenient alternative is the tram – take SBB Tram No. 8 from the train station to Barfüsserplatz or tram No. 11 to the Theater or Barfüsserplatz stop. From Badischer Bahnhof train station, take tram No. 6 to the Barfüsserplatz or Theater stop.

For visitors arriving by car, the carparks near the SBB train station (Centralbahnparking), Elisabethen, Steinen, or Parkhaus Badischer Bahnhof, are highly recommended.


The Museum, Restaurant and Shop are wheelchair-accessible. Access to the restaurant from the entrance area is via a 440 cm long, 110 cm wide ascending ramp (9.41% / 6.24°). A portable ramp can be set up from the entrance area to the shop.

All museum floors are accessible via a lift (door width 79.8 cm, depth 115 cm) with no thresholds or obstructions. The disabled toilet on the 1st floor is wheelchair-accessible: door width 79 cm, sitting height 41 cm, hinged handles and hand-rails are provided. The washbasin is designed for wheelchair users and the mirror positioned lower accordingly.

Floor surfaces:
All museum rooms have parquet floors.
The restaurant and shop have stone floors.

The restaurant presents no problems for wheelchair users and is accessible via a 440 cm long, 110 cm wide ascending ramp (9.41% / 6.24°).

A special mobile, collapsible ramp with side rail (200 cm long, 82 cm wide) is available.

How to get here:
The use of public transport is recommended: From the SBB station, tram No. 8 to the “Barfüsserplatz” stop or tram No. 11 to the “Theater” or “Barfüsserplatz” stop. From the Badischer Bahnhof station, tram No. 6 to the “Barfüsserplatz” or “Theater” stop.

You may also come by car or use the Basle Municipal Disabled Persons Transport Service (Tel. 061 666 66 66, advance notification required!). Stopping briefly in front of the museum to allow passengers to get into or out of the car is permitted. Disabled parking spaces are available in the nearby “Steinen” and “Elisabethen” multistorey car parks.

Special points:
Two wheelchairs are available in the museum for wheelchair users and persons with walking difficulties.

The interactive information systems on the various floors can be pulled down to sitting height.

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