The best Swiss art galleries and museums
Whether you like your art ancient or modern, classical or contemporary, applied or outsider, there is an eye-popping array of world-class Swiss art galleries and museums. From the Paul Klee and Vitra Design museums to prestigious events like Art Basel, the Swiss art scene is vibrant. With both a collecting culture that stretches back centuries and the planet’s most important annual contemporary fair, Basel city has traditionally been the Swiss scene’s Chanel-clad grand dame, snapping up Warhols and Bacons for her Rhine-side apartment. But worldly Zürich has hit a bold new stride in the last decade, with the immaculate regeneration of the city’s former industrial zone serving up a bevy of cool white cubes where cutting-edge contemporary art from every end of the Earth is making itself right at home. Nor are Geneva and Bern art slouches. Their venerable palaces of painting and plastic arts have long earned their global reputations, and each city also has its own flourishing crop of temples to the contemporary, both civic and indie. And the national art appetite keeps on growing. While Renzo Piano hasn’t been called upon just yet to turn the spectacular Fondation Beyeler he built in Basel and Bern’s Zentrum Paul Klee into a megamuseum hat-trick, major institutions are adding new extensions and taking over bigger buildings, while art spaces are breathing vital new life into urban industrial edifices.
Switzerland’s best LGBT clubs
The LGBT party scene in Switzerland offers something for everyone, from relaxed, mixed-queer shindigs to sweaty danceathons. For all their alpenhorn-apotheosizing and minaret-marginalising traditionalism, the Swiss have for many decades taken a world-leading stance on gay and lesbian rights. Same-sex relations were decriminalised here in 1942, and on New Year’s Day 2007 a referendum made Switzerland the first country on Earth where gay civil unions were voted in by the public, not just parliament – and by a massive majority. Today Zurich, which happens to have a chic lesbian mayor in Corine Mauch, is very much Switzerland’s LGBT capital, as well as one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities, with bars, cafes, saunas and clubs adding up to dozens of gay venues. The old town’s Barfüsser is considered Europe’s oldest gay hostelry and the annual Zurich Pride event now draws around 45,000 pink party people. Bern, Geneva and Basel all have bijou scenes, in particular the restaurant Hirscheneck in Basel being a particular influential name, but it’s little Lausanne’s young, student-rich population who have pushed forward a vibrant nightlife culture which has produced a dynamic, international LGBT scene and venues such as 43&10. Free print and online LGBT magazines including 360°, CR and Display are great for getting up to date news on events all over the country. 2014 saw Swiss LGBT culture establish another milestone, one that is bringing its trailblazing history belated credit, in