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Since 23 February 2018

Medieval Worlds of Faith

The presentation of medieval art in the Basel Historical Museum offers exciting insights into the omnipresence of the Christian faith. Exquisite works of art from the 11th to 16th centuries unfold their beauty and spiritual power in the choir of the Barfüsserkirche.

What do we believe in today?

What significance do religious ideas from the Middle Ages have in our present day?
What role do saints, Jesus and God still play today?

The choir of the former Franciscan church, built in 2018, shows impressive monuments of the Middle Ages. Works of art from Basel, the Upper Rhine region, Switzerland and southern Germany tell of religious worlds in which the church dominated daily life. Top-class objects illustrate the formal changes as well as the transformation of functions. They provide an insight into the furnishings and picture programmes of medieval churches and refer to liturgical purposes and religious ideas. Important motifs of medieval art such as the crucifix and the image of the Virgin are thematised and lead us to love, suffering and hope, but also to the splendour and misery of a bygone era. In this way, the exhibition reveals connections and religious values that may have become foreign in our society, which has become predominantly denominationless.

The largest exhibit, the Marian altarpiece from Santa Maria di Calanca (Canton Graubünden), has been further enhanced by means of two animated films produced for Basel Historical Museum by the Büro Berrel Gschwind.

The history of the Calanca altar

Life of the Virgin Mary on Calanca altar


The new presentation, and the restoration of some of the exhibits that it entailed, would not have been possible without the generous support of:

  • Peter and Simone Forcart-Staehelin, Riehen
  • Bowmore Foundation, Vaduz
  • L. & Th. La Roche Stiftung Basel
  • Ulrich and Klara Huber-Reber-Stiftung, Basel
  • Verein für das Historische Museum Basel
  • Dr. Urs D. Gloor, Basel
  • Iseli Optik AG, Basel
  • and various private donors

Collection presentation in the Barfüsserkirche/Choir

Opening timesAdmission


Basel Historical Museum
Management & administration
Steinenberg 4
PO box
CH – 4001 Basel

Reception: +41 61 205 86 00

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