Not only did Hildy and Ernst Beyeler love and collect contemporary art, it was their business.  They ran their famous Galerie Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland from the 1940s for over half a century, held 300 exhibitions to exhibit and sell contemporary art that included works of such personal friends as Picasso.  In order to promote his artists and those of his colleagues more widely, Ernst Beyeler co-founded Art Basel, an annual Art Fair that to this day draws art lovers, connoisseurs and A-list buyers from around the world to the Swiss town and to its two branches: Art Basel Miami and Art Basel Hong Kong.


Over those 50 years the Beyelers also kept aside the works they particularly liked and that were representative of the most talented artists of the times for themselves.  These paintings and sculptures eventually numbered 230 and provided a stunning and most valuable record of 44 of the 20th century’s greatest artists.


In 1982 the Beyelers transferred ownership of their collection to a non-profit foundation that commissioned Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Renzo Piano, to design a museum in which to display their collection to the public and “to awaken and sustain young people’s interest in art”.  Piano, a favored architect of private museums, designed a spectacular building of long, solid walls, glass facades and a seemingly floating glass roof in Riehen, a suburb of Basel and Ernst Beyeler’s hometown.  


External walls are clad with red porphyry from Patagonia and the glass roof floods the building in daylight but in a manner that does not interfere with the well-being and conservation of the art.  Large sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly, Louise Bourgeois and Alexander Calder adorn the outside grounds.


The permanent collection of the Beyeler includes post-impressionist works by Cezanne, van Gogh and Monet; cubist works by Picasso and Braque; characteristic works by Miro, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Matisse, Klee, later Picasso, Bazelitz, Kiefer and Rauch.  Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman represent American abstract expressionism.  Conceptual art and recent trends are exhibited in the context of temporary exhibitions, such as the recent Jeff Koons exhibit, that offer visitors insights into the latest developments in contemporary art.


Hours: Daily 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Wednesdays: – 8:00 PM

Admission: Adult: 25 Swiss Francs





2 Responses to “JL Exclusive – The Private Museums – The Beyeler Foundation Museum”

  1. Gerald Wright | 08.19.12 at 5:15 PM said…

    You have helped uncover what is evidently a gem of a museum and made it sound both inviting and accessible to the traveller.

  2. John Lownsbrough | 08.17.12 at 5:03 PM said…

    Whetted my appetite not only to see the museum and the collection but also to know more about the remarkable Beyelers.