Basel Historical Museum has a wide range of tours and events for schools, vocational schools, universities and other educational institutions.
Basel Historical Museum has a wide range of events for schools, universities and other educational institutions, whether on its exhibitions or its collection presentations.
Please click on the museum to find out more:
We also offer tours and events tailored specifically to teachers, university students and groups with special needs. We look forward to receiving your inquiries by telephone +41 61 205 86 00 or by e-mail vermittlung.hmb(at)bs.ch.
The tours last 90 minutes as a rule. Tours lasting 120 minutes can be arranged where possible. Please understand that we have capacity for only one class per time slot. Tours can be booked during normal opening hours.
Please book your visit at least two weeks in advance. We look forward to receiving your inquiries by telephone: +41 61 205 86 70 or by e-mail vermittlung.hmb(at)bs.ch.
Please note that these events require two accompanying adults where possible.
Dance into the Beyond
Stories of Disease and Death
(from year 9/grade 8)
For many centuries, diseases and epidemics posed a far greater risk than they do today. This tour centres on the Basel Dance of Death. Taking this famous cycle of paintings as a starting point, the children will examine how people in times past coped with death and the mental images they formed of death. They will look discerningly at the paintings and consider the possible interpretations. Working in small groups, they will identify the many different messages of the Dance of Death.
Thunderbolts and Shark’s Teeth
Finds from Old Treasure Chests
(preschool to year 5/grade 4
Collecting helps us make sense of the world. Things that are valuable or important are kept in treasure chests. Things that are curious or weird fire the imagination. How did people used to collect? And why did they collect? And what do their collections tell us about what they knew of the world? On this tour, there will be stories about unicorns and the children will get to see fossils, coins, bone fragments and much else besides. There will also be some very special treasure chests and some truly exceptional collectibles to admire. The children are invited to bring along one or two items from their own collections.
Unicorns, Dragons, Gods
Fantasy Worlds of the Past
(years 5–9/grades 4–8)
Medieval tapestries are teeming with “Wild People” and other fantasy creatures. Giants, dwarves and dragons have always captured people’s imagination. Even famous scientists have been known to study them! But such curious and precious things were not only studied, they were also collected and preserved. Live lizards were used as models for casts, statuettes of ancient gods were copied and mythical creatures were depicted in paintings and sculptures. All these things helped people to understand the world. On this tour, the children will explore how the people of the past pictured the world and how their images changed over the centuries.
Discovering and Exploring the World
The History of Science
(from year 8/grade 7)
How did the people of the past imagine the world to look? Since when have we known that the earth revolves around the sun? How did the stargazers of times past use an astrolabe or an armillary sphere? The sciences also have a history. The continents had to be discovered, the size of the universe calculated, the laws of physics understood and the human body explored. The objects preserved in historical cabinets of curiosity attest to our forebears’ thirst for knowledge. On this tour, the children will examine globes, measuring instruments and other curiosities and so embark on a journey of discovery to the discoverers of the past.
The Celtic City and Roman Period
Basel’s First Settlers
(years 3–6/grades 2–5)
Buried in the ground beneath our feet are several thousand years of Basel history. The Celts built two important settlements on the bend in the River Rhine now occupied by Basel and then the Romans conquered the hill where the cathedral now stands and made it part of their empire. Jewellery, pots, tools and eating implements tell us about the everyday lives led by those early settlers. The museum’s two models of those first settlements give us a vivid impression of just how developed the cultures were. The children will take a closer look at selected objects and by learning what they are made of and what their purpose was will discover the history of the Celts and Romans in Basel.
Celts, Romans, Alemanni
An Archaeological Mystery Tour in Basel
(years 6–8/grades 5–7)
The more thoroughly the archaeological remains still buried in the ground are studied, the more complex the past becomes. The Celts had built two major settlements before the Romans conquered the hill where the cathedral now stands. Their arrival led to the development of a hybrid Celtic-Roman culture. In later centuries, the Alemanni and Franks brought some important innovations of their own. What do archaeological finds tell us about these highly developed cultures? On this tour, the children will learn all about the early history of Basel and how it was settled. Taking selected objects as examples, they will be able to reconstruct the changes introduced by each new culture, specifically the Celts, Romans, Alemanni and Franks.
Measuring Time Yesterday and Today
(years 3–5/grades 2–4)
How did clocks used to look and how did they work? And what other methods of dividing up the day and measuring time did people have? What is a Midday Cannon? How does a sundial work? What were hourglasses used for? In the course of this tour of the watch and clock collection, the children will learn how telling the time has changed over the centuries. They will discover different timepieces, solve riddles, give clocks names, paint their favourite clock and try things out for themselves, using sun, sand, fire, water and oil to understand elementary chronometry.
Why do We Decorate Christmas Trees?
Stories about Christmas
(years 2–5/grades 1–4)
This event is available only in December.
Christmas is coming and several Christmas trees decorated with historical decorations are on display in the period rooms of the Haus zum Kirschgarten. The trees demonstrate how Christmas tree decorations have changed over the years; because they used not to be festooned with fairy-lights, glass balls and tinsel as they are today. Hanging on the twigs next to the candles were rather nuts, apples and little gifts. This year we are once again offering our popular Christmas event “Why do We Decorate Christmas Trees? Stories about Christmas” in which the children learn all about Christmas customs past and present. They will also have a chance to make their own Christmas decorations and will hear a Christmas story.
Fifty Rooms for One Family
Life in the Haus zum Kirschgarten
(years 3–7/grades 2–6)
This tour is a chance to explore the huge house that 240 years ago was home to the silk-ribbon manufacturer, Johann Rudolf Burckhardt, and his family. The children will first be sent on a quest to help them gain an impression of the place. Next they will work in groups to find out more about the rooms and objects they have seen. They will learn how the wealthy owners used to live, what their children played with and what the servants had to do.
Bourgeois Living Spaces of the 18th Century
A Hunt for Clues in the Haus zum Kirschgarten
(from year 7/grade 6)
This visit to the Haus zum Kirschgarten built by the manufacturer Johann Rudolf Burckhardt around 1780 will include a hunt for clues in an interior once inhabited by the haute bourgeoisie of the Ancien Régime. The tour will focus on various themes which, working in groups, the children will examine from the point of view of the master’s family and that of the servants. The results of this group work will then be presented in the course of a tour through the house. By engaging with the house and its contents from radically different angles, the children will be able to piece together a mosaic of bourgeois life in the late 18th century.
Rain, Streams, Rivers and Sea
(years 2–7/grades 1–6)
Water makes music! It splashes, drips, bubbles and gushes. Here we will explore all the many different noises made by water. We will listen to its sounds and rhythms and imitate these using ordinary objects as well as musical instruments. We will listen to music, too, discovering pieces and songs by some of the many composers who have been inspired by the sounds of water.
Plucking, Piping, Hammering
Keyboard Instruments from Harpsichord to Hammond Organ
(years 4–9/grades 3–8)
Black and white keys – that’s something they all have in common; but not much else. The family of keyboard instruments is very varied, ranging from very old harpsichords and enormous church organs to honky-tonk pianos, concert grands and Hammond organs. This will be a journey of discovery into the world of keyboard instruments. The children will learn about their history and how they work and will have a chance to experiment with the different methods of sound production, i.e. plucking, piping and hammering.
All About Horns
Tooting and Blowing
(preschool–year 3/grade 2)
We’ll start with the story of Konstantin, a crocodile who plays the horn. After this introduction to the world of horns, the children will be shown all sorts of different horns, some of which they can try out for themselves. The idea is to give them a sense of just how fascinating the world of musical instruments is.
Peter and the Wolf
A Fairy-Tale at the Musikmuseum
(years 2–5/grades 1–4)
Sergei Prokofiev composed his musical fairy-tale Peter and the Wolf in 1936 and the piece has remained a great favourite of young and old alike to this day. The children will learn to identify the characters: Peter, the brave hero of the story, the Bird, the worried Grandfather, and the big grey Wolf. The story will also serve as a general introduction to the music of Prokofiev. The children will also have a chance to find the right instruments which they can then try out for themselves.
Animals in the Musikmuseum
Of Snails and Frogs
(years 2–5/grades 1–4)
The world of music is full of animals. Where do the snails sit? Where the leaping frogs? Where is the coiled serpent? And where the soaring eagle? What are shells used for? And gut? And horsehair? Which instruments make sounds like animal noises? Here, children will discover which instruments look or sound like animals and which instruments are made with animal parts or products.
The History, Function and Playing Methods of Musical Instruments
(years 5–10/grades 4–9)
Using eyes and ears, the children will explore the differences in sound and build between familiar and unfamiliar, old and new instruments. They will be able to try out certain instruments for themselves and by doing so will learn a lot about how the music of yesterday and today is played and enjoyed.
Musical Treasures from 16th-Century Basel
(for all age groups)
Music was essential to the cultural life of Basel in the Renaissance. Famous Basel Renaissance men like Felix Platter, Andreas Ryff, Bonifacius and Basilius Amerbach studied music theory, played music themselves and collected musical instruments. This is the story told by the 16th-century prints and manuscripts from Basel University Library that are currently on show in the exhibition Sound Pictures – Musical Treasures from 16th-Century Basel at the Musikmuseum Basel. After an introduction to the show, the schoolchildren will be piloted to the most interesting exhibits. They will discover Renaissance music and the instruments it was played on, some of which they will be able to try out for themselves. They will have fun with a curious system of musical notation in which the notes are represented as pears, apples or drinking vessels, and they will learn about the printer’s craft as well as doing some printing of their own with lead type. The event will end with a Renaissance-style group dance.
(for children and young people with disabilities)
The participants in this event will discover music as a means of communication and expression. They will experience the wide range of musical sounds that can be produced by various instruments. Through individual and collective experimentation with many different instruments they will be able to savour all sorts of noises, sounds and rhythms. This interactive tour is aimed at the visually impaired and at individuals with a mental or physical disability of all age groups. The visit will be planned in advance and the tour adapted to the specific needs and wishes of those taking part.
Parties of schoolchildren are welcome to visit even without a guided tour. To ensure everything goes smoothly, we would be grateful if you would bear in mind that
Please book your visit at least two weeks in advance.
We look forward to receiving your inquiries by telephone: +41 61 205 86 70 or by e-mail: vermittlung.hmb(at)bs.ch.
«Guilds and Societies in Basel» (years 6–13/grades 5–12 and vocational schools) – dossier with materials
The history of the guilds makes a good springboard for questions on the world of work and preparation for professional life as well as many aspects of the city’s social, economic and political development. The various themes can be incorporated into lessons in a wide range of ways. This dossier developed as a tie-in with the section of the permanent exhibition called «Guilds and Societies in Basel» provides teachers and their classes with the materials they need to be able to work independently in the Barfüsserkirche. It contains suggestions for tours, worksheets and sources as well as further reading for before and after the visit to the museum.
The dossier is in German and can be downloaded free of charge.