5 Must-See Sites for Art Lovers in Stylish Basel

Basel's smart, sophisticated style makes it a natural for art lovers. Here are five sites you won't want to miss.

Editor's Note: Basel's smart, sophisticated style makes it a natural for art lovers, according to our resident travel columnists, Eric and Nancy Anderson. Below are their picks for five sites you won't want to miss. This is the second in a series on Basel. To read the first, part, click here.

The Restaurant Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland

Stainless steel pots and pans, and knives and forks, and art made from concrete and fabric

by Andra Ursuta. And folk art discussed by Jeremy Deller. And reflections on Indian Modernism by Nasreen Mohamedi. It is hard to know if you are in a restaurant or an art exhibition.

Actually you are in both, a Basel restaurant called Kunsthalle and if you click here you will see the list of art exhibitions Kunsthalle has given over the last 15 years!

But if you are hungry and want to see today’s menu, better click here. We usually don’t pay too much attention to TripAdvisor but it gives Kunsthalle raves.

Basel Museums

The Museum of Contemporary Art

Top Left Clockwise: The Poet, Picasso 1912. Woman on a Divan, Matisse 1921. Footbridge Over the Water Lilly Pond. Monet 1919. Marie Daughter of the People, Modigliani 1918. Bottom center middle image; Woman/Mother and Child, Fernand Leger 1922. Marguerite Gauchet, Van Gogh 1890.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (is a joint endeavor of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, the Christoph Merian Foundation and the Canton of Basel-Stadt). It opened in 1980 claiming it was the first museum in the world dedicated exclusively to contemporary art.

Twenty-five online alphabetized pages list the museum collection here. If you are going in person from, say, the Swissotel as we did, take tram No. 2 at “Messeplatz” in direction of “Binningen Kronenplatz” until “Kunstmuseum”. From here you can walk to the Museum für Gegenwartskunst.

“In addition to changing presentations of the collection, which are kept in dialogue with the museum‘s exhibition activities, the Museum für Gegenwartskunst regularly schedules lectures and discussions on aspects of contemporary art, gives guided tours and exhibits commentated viewings of selected pieces, underscoring the museum’s desire to serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas and a laboratory for the multifarious forms of contemporary art production and practice.”

Beyeler Foundation

Benefactors Hildy and Ernst Beyeler stand in front of their museum, a building that brings the Swiss outdoors inside. Middle images both by Francis Bacon (1909-1992). Left: Lying Figure 1969. Right . Portrait of George Dyer Riding a Bicycle 1966. Another Van Gogh Wheat Field with Cornflowers 1890.

Museum Tinguely

Jean Tinguely, an eccentric but impressive sculptor and painter was born in 1925 in Basel and rapidly became one of Basel’s favorite sons. He was popular even as observers felt his sculptural machines and kinetic art “satirized the mindless overproduction of material goods in advanced industrial society.” He died in 1991 aged 66 of cardiovascular disease. His work was as eccentric as that of Salvatore Dali — but whereas Dali created sofas based on Mae West‘s lips, Tinguely erected a sculpture of a pregnant woman lying on her backs with her legs apart and a door in her vagina through which the visitor could watch Greta Garbo movies.

All by Jean Tinguely.

The vases were masterpieces from eras including the 8th century BC, adorned first with geometric patterns then mythological scenes as time advanced, scenes that Greeks had seen in their homes that had even followed them into death.

Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig

Although the Antikenmuseum has a special exhibition on a most important shipwreck, that of the Antikythera around 78-60 BC the charm for us at the time of our visit was the magnificent collection of Greek vases on display. The ship had been discovered by sponge divers in 1900. It was not a secret; Jacques-Yves Cousteau, had even dived on the wreck.

Photography by the authors

The Andersons, who live in San Diego, are the resident travel & cruise columnists for Physician's Money Digest. Nancy is a former nursing educator, Eric a retired MD. The one-time president of the New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians, Eric is the only physician in the Society of American Travel Writers. He has also written five books, the last called The Man Who Cried Orange: Stories from a Doctor's Life.