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18 June 2021 – 14 November 2021

Human Rights and Revolution – Peter Ochs (1752–1821)

The successful Basel politician and diplomat Peter Ochs was openly enthusiastic about the French Revolution in 1789 and persistently campaigned for the implementation of human rights and the political equality of all Swiss.

As a driving force, he co-founded the Helvetic Republic in 1798. Although he failed politically along with it, and was at times branded a «traitor to the country», many of his ideas for a free constitutional state were realised in the following decades.

To mark the 200th anniversary of his death, Basel Historical Museum is showing a small exhibition with 26 selected exhibits in the Barfüsserkirche. The exhibition is complemented by a publication by Christoph Merian Verlag, which offers a knowledgeable and compact insight into the eventful biography and afterlife of Peter Ochs of Basel. High-quality illustrations of numerous previously unpublished documents and objects enrich the exciting journey through eventful times.

Complementary to the cabinet exhibition: «The Text Workshop of Peter Ochs (1752–1821)« in cooperation with the University Library of Basel.
Peter Ochs was not only an important statesman, jurist and revolutionary, but also wrote the extensive «Geschichte der Stadt und Landschaft Basel». Various manuscripts provide an insight into the decades-long creative process and his working methods as a writer. 

The small exhibition in two showcases is trilingual (German, English, French), wheelchair accessible and accessible via eGuide.

Petschaft of Peter Ochs with family coat of arms // Johann Ulrich Samson (1729–1806) // 18th century, gold and steel // 2.22 x 2.0 cm (stamp image), 2.73 cm (petschaft) // Basel Historical Museum, inv. 1930.128. // Picture credits: Basel Historical Museum, photographer: Andreas Niemz
Thank-you gift from the French Directory for brokering the Peace of Basel in 1795 // nine-piece service with colonial motifs // Sèvres, c. 1790 // porcelain, painted // private property // picture credits: Basel Historical Museum, photographer: Andreas Niemz
Sabre of Peter Ochs as Helvetic Director // Paris/Versailles, c. 1800 // Steel blued and gilded, brass gilded, copper gilded, wood, leather // Sabre 101.6 cm, blade 89.2 cm, scabbard 91.1 cm // Basel Historical Museum, inv. 1893.145. // Picture credits: Basel Historical Museum, photographer: Andreas Niemz
32 Francs (double duplicate) // Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) // Bern, 1800 // Gold, stamped // Diameter 27 mm // Basel Historical Museum, inv. 1903.1428. // Picture credits: Basel Historical Museum, photographer: Alwin Seiler
‹Geschichte der Stadt und Landschaft Basel.› // Peter Ochs // Berlin and Leipzig 1786 (vol. 1), Basel 1792 (vol. 2), 1819 (vols. 3, 4), 1821 (vols. 5, 6, 7), 1822 (vol. 8) // 20,5 x 13,5 cm // Basel Historical Museum, Bibliothek // Signatur Bf qu 9:1 bis Bf qu 9:8 // Picture credits: Basel Historical Museum, photographer: Andreas Niemz
Historisches Museum Basel

Exhibition catalogue

Human Rights and Revolution

Peter Ochs (1752–1821)

200th anniversary of Peter Ochs' death: 19 June 2021
Important personality for the development of modern Switzerland

This publication offers a knowledgeable insight into the biography of Peter Ochs and the changing assessment of his work. High-quality illustrations of previously unpublished documents enrich the journey through eventful times.

With contributions by Sara Janner, Benjamin Mortzfeld, Stefan Hess and Beat von Wartburg. Language: German

Book in our online shop

Small cabinet exhibition in the Barfüsserkirche

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Basel Historical Museum
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Steinenberg 4
PO box
CH – 4001 Basel

Reception: +41 61 205 86 00

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