Swiss Museum of Transport
The Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne is a multifaceted transport and communications museum. It is the most-visited museum in Switzerland. It displays a large collection of railway locomotives, vehicles, boats and aircraft, as well as exhibits from the field of communications. The premises of the Swiss Museum of Transport are also home to a planetarium, a cinema ("Filmtheatre") and the “Swiss Chocolate Adventure”. The Swiss Museum of Transport is operated by the Verein Verkehrshaus der Schweiz [Swiss Museum of Transport Association]. The number of visitors to the museum in 2019 was 562,605, while the other attractions – Filmtheatre, Swiss Chocolate Adventure and Planetarium – recorded a combined additional total of 318,509 visitors.
The founding of the Swiss Museum of Transport stemmed from the desire to create a railway museum in Switzerland. 1942 saw the Swiss Museum of Transport Association founded in Zurich. Among its members were the SBB/CFF/FFS (Swiss Federal Railways), the PTT (the Swiss Postal Telegraph and Telephone agency, later to become SwissPost, Swisscom, etc.), private railways and transport organisations, and major companies and organisations from trade, industry and tourism. However, when no suitable site could be found in Zurich for the planned museum, the city of Lucerne offered the association a 22,500 m² site near the Lido and adjacent to Lake Lucerne. Work to build the museum began in 1957. The construction was funded by the federal government and the city and canton of Lucerne. Inaugurated on 1 July 1959, the Swiss Museum of Transport soon became the most popular museum in Switzerland. Its co-founder and founding director was Alfred Waldis. “No matter how many directors follow in his wake, Alfred Waldis will always remain ‘Mister Museum of Transport’,” eulogised the Neue Luzerner Zeitung newspaper on his death. The Museum of Transport became known to a larger audience in Germany through a sketch (Im Verkehrshaus) (1976) by the Lucerne comedian Emil Steinberger. In the course of a storm, flooding occurred in the museum on the night of 21-22 August 2005, which inundated some of the displays and damaged contents in the basement rooms of the navigation and aviation departments.
Home to numerous exhibits that can be touched and interacted with, the museum is divided into a variety of thematic areas:
Amongst the extensive rail transport collection are vintage vehicles from Switzerland's first ever railway (informally known as the “Spanisch Brötli Bahn”), trams and rack railways. Also featured are the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA), simulators, films and touchscreen info stations. A model railway layout of the Gotthard, which can be viewed on three sides, portrays the northern ramp of the Gotthard railway between Erstfeld station and the Göschenen tunnel portal, including the three loop/curved tunnels near Wassen. Created in 1959 by the Luzerner Eisenbahn- und Modellbaufreunde, a group of model railway enthusiasts from Lucerne, the exhibit took around 30,000 hours of work to make and has been on display in the Swiss Museum of Transport ever since the latter opened. Since summer 2016, the Rail Transport Hall has also featured a train simulator, which visitors can use to travel through the NRLA base tunnel. The “Mobility of the Future” exhibition area contains visions of the future in public transport as envisioned by the Swiss Federal Railways
The road transport collection on display contains horse-drawn vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and cars, as well as an exhibition on road safety realised in cooperation with the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (bfu). One major attraction is the Car Theatre, which features a large selection of vehicles from all periods of automobile history: visitors can select a vehicle, which is then hoisted out of a high-bay warehouse and presented on a stage. The external facades of the Road Transport Hall are covered by 344 Swiss road signs. Since spring 2020, the Road Transport Hall is also home to a special exhibition on the world of logistics. It comprises an AutoStore automated small parts warehouse, an animated miniature distribution centre, a tyre robot, interactive picking stations, and the virtual harvest-to-retail journey of a pineapple. A “Supply Game” on four large touch screens features the chocolate supply chain from South America to Switzerland.
The Aviation and Space Travel Hall, inaugurated on 1 July 1972 in the presence of astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, attracted great interest in the USA when it opened: Senator Barry Goldwater, speaking in the US Senate, described the new exhibition as a good model for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., which was being planned at the time.] The current aviation exhibition features civil aviation, mountain and rescue interventions, Swiss engineering achievements, and flying as a career. The 30 or so original aircraft on display range from a 1909 Dufaux 4 biplane (the oldest surviving Swiss aircraft) and a Blériot XI-b by aviation pioneer Oskar Bider, to four Swissair aircraft, a Northrop F-5E fighter plane of the Swiss Air Force in the colours of the Patrouille Suisse aerobatic team, and a Bombardier Challenger 604 Rega ambulance jet. Showing the development of aviation from its beginnings to the present day is a row of display cases more than 40 metres long; traversing the ground floor of the hall, they containing 1:40 scale models of aircraft. A very rare example of a satellite returning intact to Earth from space, the European research platform EURECA is the centrepiece of the space travel exhibition. Other highlights include a piece of the original foil of the solar wind experiment conducted as part of the first Apollo 11 moon landing even before the American flag was planted on the lunar surface; a chunk of real moon rock; a Martian landscape with full-size models of three Mars rovers; and duplicates of measuring instruments that explored the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet as part of the Rosetta mission. The interactive centrepiece of the space travel exhibition is the world's only “Space Transformer”, a large walk-in cube that rotates slowly around its diagonal axis: as the floor becomes the wall and the wall the ceiling, it gives visitors an impression of disorientation in a space station.
The exhibits in the Navigation Hall, which opened in 1984, provide an overview of how shipping developed in Switzerland and include objects of international renown. The submersible Mésoscaphe, designed by Auguste Piccard in 1963, was in service at the Expo 64 Swiss National Exhibition in Lausanne in 1964. The submarine was restored in over 28,000 hours of work and has been accessible to visitors since 2014. A 1:1 cutaway model of the Pilatus saloon paddle steamer offers a view into the interior of a ship with a steam engine. On display in front of the Navigation Hall is another steamship, the Rigi: dating from 1848, it is the world's oldest surviving flush-deck side-wheeler steamer. A mini exhibition surrounding the wheelhouse of the Meilen ferry (1979), and the Basel ferry “Vogel Gryff”, offer insights into Switzerland's car and passenger ferries. The “Nautirama” multimedia show immerses visitors in the Central Switzerland tourism region. Engines by Saurer and Escher & Wyss, outboard engines and Voith-Schneider propellers trace the development of ship propulsion. Rounding out the navigation exhibition are flying ships, the smallest two-man submersible, a model of the waterways locks in Birsfelden, sailing boats, a lifeboat from the ocean-going MS Carona that sank in 1964, and a steamship parade featuring models of some of the vessels that ply Switzerland's lakes.
The aerial cableway exhibition documents Switzerland's pioneering role in making the Alps accessible. From early hand-operated cableways and ski lifts to modern-day large-capacity cable cars, Switzerland's only permanent cableway exhibition illustrates developments in aerial cableway engineering. Highlights include a working model of Engelberg's Stand-Kleintitlis reversible cableway and a cabin from the Wetterhorn cableway with original running gear. Since May 2020, the exhibition includes a section of the old Grindelwald-Männlichen gondola (circulating) cableway complete with cabin: this is used to explain the workings of detachable cable car systems. The tourism section of the exhibition features the crowd-pulling Tourism Flipper marble run. The adjacent “Livemap Switzerland” is a 200 m² detailed aerial view of Switzerland at a scale of 1:20000, which can be walked on with felt over-shoes. With the help of augmented reality, the aerial image can be enhanced using an app to include weather data, air and rail traffic information, and personal photographs.
The Media World features aspects of the development of media; highlights here include virtual reality goggles, a TV studio and a green screen facility. Realised by Red Bull Media House in October 2016, it replaces the museum's previous media exhibition.
Built in 1979 in the grounds of the Swiss Museum of Transport, this monographic museum has on display a large collection of works by the Lucerne artist Hans Erni; it also holds temporary exhibitions featuring works by other artists with the intention of placing Erni's work in the context of his time and ours. Depicting great Western intellectual thinkers, the Panta rhei mural in the auditorium on the second floor is twice 18 metres long.
The Union Schweizerischer Kurzwellenamateure USKA [Union of Swiss Short Wave Amateurs] operates a shortwave and VHF/UHF radio station in the Aviation and Space Travel Hall with the call sign HB9O. Amateur radio demonstrations are held every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Red Bull The Edge opened at the Swiss Museum of Transport on 23 June 2021. It offers visitors the opportunity to climb the last metres of the Matterhorn by means of VR technology and a 360° film production. This involves clambering up a climbing wall equipped with a climbing harness and VR goggles. A fusion of the digital and the real world is achieved through additional use of a wind simulator and an authentic soundscape.
The Swiss Museum of Transport benefits from other attractions alongside the museum:
The Planetarium of the Swiss Museum of Transport is Switzerland's most modern large-dome planetarium; it can accommodate 246 spectators. The second such facility in the country to be built, it was opened on 1 July 1969 by astronaut John Glenn in New York by means of a live link provided by the Early Bird satellite. The seating was renewed in 2001, after which it received one of the world's first full-dome video systems as replacement for the outmoded technology featuring several dozen slide projectors. The dome has a diameter of 18 metres and a total area of around 502 m². The programmes use projection and audio technology to showcase the night sky and the phenomena associated with it. Following a major refit including new seating and a modular stage, the Planetarium reopened on 6 March 2014. Since then, it has been equipped with one of the world's most up-to-the-minute digital projection systems from Evans & Sutherland as replacement for the optical Zeiss projector previously used. Over the years, several globally successful planetarium productions have been created in Lucerne, including “LIMIT”, “D'Wiehnachtsgschicht” [The Christmas Story] and “Mission Earth
The cinema (“Filmtheatre”)] opened in 1996 as Switzerland's first IMAX cinema with 398 seats. Measuring 25 × 19 m, the screen was the largest in Switzerland. The cinema was upgraded to the Dolby 3D digital standard in 2008. 2010 saw the “IMAX Filmtheatre” renamed “Verkehrshaus Filmtheater” [Swiss Museum of Transport Filmtheatre] because most of the screenings were digital rather than in the 70 mm IMAX format. The cinema was completely renovated in 2020 and equipped with state-of-the-art technology; the refit covered the projection technology, sound system, lighting, seating (now 342 seats) and screen. Featuring a 4K laser projector and 25.5 m x 14 m screen, the facility screens several documentaries during the day. Evening screenings include feature films, documentaries, live streams of ballet, opera and classical concerts, as well as travel presentations. The 2020 refit included the installation of a revolving stage lift capable of accommodating a variety of event formats.
The Swiss Chocolate Adventure is a multimedia exhibition on the raw materials, history and value/supply chain of Swiss chocolate. Occupying an area of 700 m2 and featuring automated people movers, the attraction opened in June 2014. A tour takes 25 minutes to complete and is available in German, French, Italian, English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and Brazilian Portuguese via audio guides. The tour ends with an opportunity to taste chocolate.
Focus on energy at the Swiss Museum of TransportEdit
A new focus on energy is being implemented as part of the construction of a new multipurpose building on Haldenstrasse, which is due for completion in 2023. The Swiss Museum of Transport is partnering with organisations and companies from the industry to create a central platform showcasing the topic of energy and featuring an interactive exhibition, conferences and events.
Featuring 36 slide projectors and 2880 slides on 18 projection screens, the Cosmorama show opened in 1972 in the new Aviation Hall. Using original exhibits, Alfred Waldis took advantage of the neutrality of the Swiss venue to present the history of American and Soviet space travel to the public for the first time. The Apollo 13 crew were received at the Museum of Transport on 7 October 1970, followed by the Russian astronaut German Stepanovich Titov on 3 July 1974.
The Cosmorama was followed by a series of “multivisions”: in 1984, the Swissorama using Ernst A. Heiniger's Circarama method. Between 1984 and 2002, over 1.8 million viewers saw the Swissorama film “Impressions of Switzerland” in around 20,000 screenings; 1990 Nautirama; 1996 IMAX Filmtheatre cinema; 2005 Swissarena; and 2009 Autotheater. Pioneers and other special guests were invited to the opening of these attractions.
Gotthard Tunnel ShowEdit
The Gotthard Tunnel Show was an exhibition on the construction of the first Gotthard railway tunnel, which visitors could ride through on a train. It was in operation between 1997 and November 2013.
A "HiFlyer" tethered balloon was an attraction at the Swiss Museum of Transport between October 2000 and July 2004; it was taken out of service following a fatal accident.
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