Winterthur's museums
Home > Tourist Guide > Table of contents > Zurich > Winthertur > Visiting the town > The museums

Winterthur’s main draw are its excellent museums; these aside, the pedestrianized Old Town has some charm once you get off the main shopping streets – the elegant medieval Stadtkirche, for example, with its luridly kitschy modern murals, is worth a look – but other than enjoying the atmosphere at one of the many street cafés there’s not much to aim for.

If you have extra time, or if Victorian industrial architecture lights your fire, you should head southwest under the tracks into the Sulzer-Areal district, where hulking disused brick-built factories are slowly being reclaimed as atmospheric theatre spaces, bars and skating arenas.

Winterthur’s best museums are the two separate Oskar Reinhart art collections – one housed in the town centre (“am Stadtgarten”), the other on a hill near the town (“am Römerholz”) – and the Kunstmuseum. The Fotomuseum and Villa Flora are close runners-up. Note that they’re all closed on Mondays. If you don’t have a Museumspass (see opposite), ask at either of the two Reinhart museums for their combined entry ticket of Fr.12.

The Oskar Reinhart Collection am Römerholz, Haldenstrasse 95 (Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.8; SMP), is one of the leading private art collections assembled in Europe in the twentieth century. Born in 1885, Reinhart came from a local trading family, but aged 41 withdrew from business and moved into the villa Am Römerholz to devote himself to his passion for art. When he died in 1965, part of his collection passed to the municipality (and is now housed in the Stadtgarten museum), and the remaining 200 paintings and his villa at Römerholz were bequeathed to the nation. This latter half of his collection is an idiosyncratic mingling of styles and periods, brought together more for each piece’s artistic qualities than as an attempt to form a representative overview of any one artist or genre. There are works from fifteenth- and sixteenth-century German masters, including Matthias Grünewald, Lukas Cranach the Elder and Hans Holbein the Younger; a small group of Italian and Spanish works, including some by El Greco and Goya; and fifteenth- to seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting dominated by Breughel, Rubens, Hals and Rembrandt. Many works from French Baroque, Neoclassicist and Romantic artists – including some of Delacroix’s best portraits – lead on to Reinhart’s marvellous Impressionist collection with a range of works by Renoir, Manet, Degas, and many more. The museum has a lovely sunny café to help you catch your breath.

Back in the town, the Museum Oskar Reinhart am Stadtgarten, Stadthausstrasse 6 (Tues 10am–8pm, Wed–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.8; SMP), is of less general interest, concentrating on German, Swiss and Austrian artists from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. On the ground floor are a few rooms of portraits by local artists including Graff and Füssli. On the floor above are Romantic landscapes from all over Switzerland, and up another floor are some marvellous studies of children by the Swiss artist Albert Anker, and works by Hodler, Segantini and Giovanni Giacometti. The new top-floor extension features changing exhibitions.

Just across the gardens behind lies the Kunstmuseum, Museumstrasse 52 (Tues 10am–8pm, Wed–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.8 for the permanent collection, more for temporary exhibits; SMP), with a spectacular collection covering international art over the last century. The tour begins upstairs, with a room devoted to Van Gogh, Monet, Rousseau and sculpture by Picasso and Rodin. Hodler and a Cubist room lead on to a Surrealist selection topped by Miró and a rare self-portrait by De Chirico. Works by Brancusi lead into the high-ceilinged, white-walled extension, dominated by Mondrian, American artists and sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, with rooms to one side devoted to temporary exhibits.

The critic Paul Graham has called Winterthur’s Fotomuseum, Grüzenstrasse 44 (Tues–Fri noon–6pm, Sat & Sun 11am–5pm; Fr.8; SMP), “the most beautiful museum of photography in Europe”, and it’s easy to see why. Housed in a brick-built renovated former warehouse, it’s light, bright and open, and benefits further from its policy of staging five or six top-drawer annual exhibitions each year. The museum is a walkable 400m southeast from the Old Town, off Tösstalstrasse (or bus #2 to Schleife). Very nearby, at Tösstalstrasse 44, is the Villa Flora (Tues–Sat 2–5pm, Sun 11am–3pm; Fr.6), with a small but high-quality French Post-Impressionist art collection, Fauvist and Nabi works (Matisse, Vallotton, and more) fleshed out with earlier works by Cézanne, Van Gogh and others.

The Technorama, Technoramastrasse 1 (Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.15; www..technorama.ch; bus #5), will keep you occupied on a wet afternoon, but despite the brochure-led hype it doesn’t really justify the shelling out of such a hefty entrance fee. Spread over three floors of a renovated warehouse, it’s packed with physics experiments of all kinds to demonstrate water and flow patterns, acoustics, magnetism, light waves, and everything else you’ve forgotten from misspent afternoons in the school lab. Where the place scores is with its fancier displays – making water seem to flow upwards with strobe lights, for instance, or puffing giant smoke rings and then whisking up a tornado out of nowhere. It’s a shame that all accompanying notes are in German or French. Kids, obviously, won’t care a hoot and will have a great time.

The city and Heidi Taxi (052/202 22 22) jointly run a Museumsbus, unnecessary for the town-centre Stadtgarten collection and the Kunstmuseum, but very handy for getting to and from the Römerholz collection, some distance from town on a hilltop. Minibuses depart from the station (Tues–Sun hourly 9.45am–4.45pm), picking up at the Stadtgarten and the Kunstmuseum a few minutes later, and dropping off at the gates of the Römerholz gallery. Departures from there back to town are on the hour 10am to 5pm. The Fr.5 fare is valid all day. On Sundays the bus makes extra stops at the Villa Flora and the Fotomuseum.

Otherwise, reaching the Römerholz collection involves city bus #3 to Spital and a stiff ten- or fifteen-minute climb.

© Micheloud & Cie 2013     No part of this site may be reproduced in any form or by any means without our prior written permission. Printed from http://Switzerland.isyours.com/e/guide/zurich/winterthurmuseums.html