BASEL, Switzerland -- This Swiss border city, smack on the French
and German frontiers, is an art lover's delight, with 40 museums
packed into 14 square miles.
That's the highest concentration of such institutions among
towns of similar size in Europe, and the collections in Basel --
home to the annual Art Basel show, the world's largest modern art
fair -- range in subject matter from doll houses, toys and
caricatures to modern art and industrial design.
The latest addition to Basel's bevy of galleries and museums is
the offbeat Schaulager, a sort of combination warehouse, exhibition
space and research center for contemporary artwork.
The Schaulager opened May 25 with the first of its planned,
once-per-year shows to be open to the public: "Roth Time," a
retrospective of the work of the late German-born artist Dieter
Roth, which runs through Sept. 14.
Afterward -- and until the next show -- access will be
restricted to students, researchers and other authorized
According to management, the Schaulager's primary mission is
"conserving, researching and promoting" modern art, starting with
the famed Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation collection, which has
outgrown other area museums.
Holdings now number 650 pieces, including new media and
installations too large to be displayed at other venues.
The Schaulager's unique architecture and cluttered display
aesthetic facilitate easy access to works that might otherwise end
up locked away at traditional art institutions.
From Klee to Guinea
The Schaulager's not all that's happening on Basel's museum
The Fondation Beyeler -- built by architect Renzo Piano in
nearby Riehen to house 200 works of classic modernism -- hosts
"Paul Klee -- The Late Work" from Aug. 10 to Nov. 9.
Meanwhile, Basel's Museum of Ethnology offers "Korewori: Magic
Art from the Rainforest" until Sept. 28; the landmark show is the
first exhibit of all 89 of the museum's New Guinea wood sculptures
Savvy agents will sell clients on the Basel Card visitor pass,
which offers free admission to 30 area museums and, optionally,
free public transportation. Cards are available in 24-, 48- and
72-hour increments; a 24-hour card with free transit costs about
The Swiss Museums Passport offers free entrance to 330 museums
across Switzerland; one-month adult passes cost about $22.50, or
$26.50 for one adult and up to five kids.
For more on museum visits in Basel, contact Switzerland Tourism
at (877) 794-8037 or visit www.myswitzerland.com. Or, visit Basel Museum
Services at www.baselmuseums.ch or Basel Tourism at www.baseltourismus.ch. For more on the Schaulager,