On a recent trip to Lucerne in Switzerland there was plenty of opportunity for surprise, becoming a ‘culture vulture’ visiting several museums in just a few days.
I especially enjoyed the Bourbaki-Panorama which was the pre-cinema equivalent of 3D movies. It is a huge walk-round painting which depicts the retreat of the French at Les Verrières in Switzerland in the Franco-Prussian War. The painting is interesting enough but the various model ‘scenes’ such as dying or wounded soldiers being treated or weapons being stockpiled adds depth and reality. Using mannequin dummies to give it an extra dimension, it has to be seen to fully appreciate it as unfortunately photographs are not allowed.
“inner child to emerge but here it was positively irrepressible”
The Glacier garden is also of interest, quite an eclectic mix as one minute wandering past glacial ‘potholes’ and then a house with a multitude of interactive and visual displays. The potholes are located near the Lion of Lucerne and were discovered in 1872 whilst attempting to build the largest wine cellar in Lucerne. To make it even more confusing they have a mirrored “Alhambra” labyrinth located within the grounds, I left feeling pleasantly bamboozled.
The undoubted star however is the Museum of Transport a large museum with plenty of exciting displays. It does not take a great deal for my inner child to emerge but here it was irrepressible!
The exhibits are separated in to various forms of transport, trains, motor cars, marine craft and flying transport. They are all really impressive with various forms of transport anywhere there is a space to display them. There is even an area dedicated to space exploration with satellites, astronauts, lunar vehicles and multimedia displays.
“kid in a candy shop and especially in the motor hall”
They are not all located on the ground; the planes unsurprisingly can be found hanging from the roof. However most of the exhibition halls are on several levels and it is necessary to look up to avoid missing exciting and often unexpected displays.
It is a cliché but I really could not help feeling like a ‘kid in a candy shop’ and especially in the motor hall. It is amazing, and not devoted entirely to cars, but also bicycles, motor bikes and an explanation of the evolution of the wheel.
The main exhibit is incredible, the various vehicles are placed on palettes which are then placed on a single wall, which is then floor to ceiling with vehicles fifteen metres or so high. The palettes are then removed individually with a hoist and placed in an auditorium where its history is then explained in an interactive commentary.
There are penny farthing bicycles, classic motorbikes, a US Army jeep, vintage cars, a sixties Porsche racing car and many more. The array of vehicles on display is amazing enough but the manner in which they are exhibited is incredible, innovative and exciting.
By this time I was regretting arriving so late in the day as it would have been great to spend several hours here just watching each display being selected and then explained. Completing some of the interactive displays and simulations were really fun too and it would be easy to spend a whole day here.
“Switzerland’s most popular museum”
There is also a display which follows the history of communications. Starting with the postal services including a postal coach and a huge collection of stamps it then moves onto telecommunication systems. A working television studio and radio station are included as well as collections of telephones, radios and televisions.
By the time the ‘Planetarium’ is reached it was easy to understand why the Schweizerisches Verkehrsmuseum, Luzern is Switzerland’s most popular museum.
Each display area is colour coded making them easy to follow from one section to another and within each separate exhibition area. There is probably even more to see than described as I unfortunately ran out of time.
It is a fascinating way to spend several hours and the attention to detail is epitomised by the provision of umbrellas in case of rain when walking between exhibit halls.
It is easy to find the museum located next to the lake, taking a bus drops visitor’s right outside but take the stroll around the lake is highly recommended. It is the best way to access the museum, the walk itself takes around thirty minutes but is well worth it.
Next time you are in the Lucerne neighbourhood drop in the Museum of Transport it is guaranteed to bring out your inner child.
I am extremely grateful to the Lucerne Tourism Office for extending me this invite to visit, but as always my ‘inner child’ expressed my own opinions.