5 Museum Experiences
Jungfrau Region's Blogbuster Series / Nr. 09
We can consider ourselves lucky here. Because we're actually living in a huge natural museum. Mountains, meadows, forests and waters look as if they've been beautifully painted here. There are 4 special exhibitions per year: spring, summer, autumn and winter - all have unique things to offer.
But today's blog is about 5 REAL museum experiences in the Jungfrau Region. For when the weather isn't suitable for outdoor activities or to simply learn more about the exciting history of the different villages and valleys.
#1 MiniMuseumMürren – first window museum in Switzerland!
Listen, Mürren's an idyllic mountain village with a little over 400 inhabitants and no cars (except a few small electric cars) – but size doesn't always matter, as the MiniMuseum also proves. If you take a walk through the village, you'll come across 8 different windows that offer access to history and stories from and around Mürren.
This year's theme of exhibition is «MürrenWater». The Lauterbrunnen Valley's also known as the Valley of 72 Waterfalls. These inlcude, among others, the «Mirrenbach», at 417 metres the highest waterfall in Switzerland, and the Staubbach, a landmark of Lauterbrunnen village. We have no idea if the number's actually right but hey, 72 waterfalls sounds kinda nice right.
Mürren still supplies itself with its own drinking water - fresh spring water to be exact, mainly from the spring «Hinter der Egg». The water supply cooperative Mürren provides drinking and service water for the population, guests, tourists and local industry. It also provides sufficient extinguishing water in the event of a fire.
The MiniMuseum also collaborates with the Hotel Regina Mürren on such topics. The historic hotel's culturally active and part of various events this season. For example, the Water Festival from 6 to 15 September 2019. If you're already in Mürren, the hotel’s of course also suitable for a great overnight experience.
Opening hours and prices:
The windows may only be visited during the week, on weekends they need their rest. Just kidding, the windows can of course be viewed at any time and free of charge. Information and prices on the supporting programmes can be found on the website of the MiniMuseum.
#2 Ballenberg - Swiss Open-Air Museum
Now from something small in Mürren to a slightly larger facility. More precisely, the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum near Lake Brienz – surrounded by hills, forests and beautiful mountain scenery. The museum's not only an important cultural, research and tourism institution, but with almost 200 employees during the season, the museum's one of the most important employers in the region.
It's more than just a trip down memory lane – get ready for a truly authentic Swiss experience! Visit and admire over 100 rural houses and farm buildings from all over the country. Magnificent farmhouses, humble workers quarters, alpine huts and stalls, barns, store-houses, wash-houses and drying ovens provide architectural as well as socio-historical testimony to the everyday life and rural culture of the past.
However, the representative houses of the different farmhouse styles make up only a part of the Museum. Gardens, fields, pastures and meadows, set up according to historical models, surround the farmsteads and houses. Moreover, about 250 farm animals, representing the whole gamut of native domestic animals, provide lively and interesting scenes at Ballenberg.
A variety of old craft professions are still actively pursued today in the workshops of the Swiss Open-Air Museum Ballenberg. Basket-making, forging in the smithy, braiding, spinning, weaving and carving are just a few of the many crafts demonstrated daily.
Groups can get a really close feel. Offered tours highlight themes in detail – life in the Alps for example, natural healing powers or different ceremonies. Roll up your sleeves for a more active programme: join the workshop, bake bread, mix herb teas or take over the kitchen completely and cook at the wood-burning stove. The Foxtrail, a Swiss-wide treasure hunt, is a new addition to the group offers.
Restaurants, food trucks as well as barbecue and picnic areas round off the experience. You can take home a piece of Ballenberg in form of specialities, be it food or handmade things.
Side note: A special exhibition during 2018 and 2019 is dedicated to a true Swiss beauty queen – the cow.
Opening hours and prices:
13 April to 3 November 2019 / 10am to 5pm daily
Adults CHF 28 / Children (6 - 16th birthday) CHF 14
There are also various family, group and package offers.
Free tip: Although the houses are only accessible from 10am, the ticket offices and restaurants are already open from 9am. You can also buy your ticket online to quickly join the fun and avoid standing in a queue at the ticket office.
#3 Grindelwald Museum
From a mountain farming village to a tourist resort – find out more about the history of Grindelwald. The museum's located next to the village church, which's a nice photo subject.
Grindelwald's also called the glacier valley. Unfortunately, the ice giants have almost completely disappeared today – but there were times when the Upper and Lower Grindelwald Glaciers led deep into the village and could even be climbed.
Besides historical facts like this, the museum's built around several themes: The myth of the Eiger mountain and mountaineering in general, agriculture and alpine farming, winter sports, railways, technology, craftsmanship or mountain painting.
The museum's run by the Grindelwald Homeland Association. They also take care of these historical objects around the valley:
- Old «Mitellegi hut» on the Jungfrau Eiger Walk (hiking trail) between Eigergletscher railway station and Kleine Scheidegg. From 1924 to 2001 the hut stood on the Mittellegi ridge, on the way to the Eiger summit.
- Cabin of the Wetterhorn lift at Hotel Wetterhorn (bus stop «Oberer Gletscher»). The Wetterhorn lift was in operation from 1908 to 1914.
- Former mountain station of the Wetterhorn lift in the area «Engi», below the path to the Gleckstein SAC hut. Path only for experienced mountain hikers.
- «Mälchhysi Nodhalten» from the 17th century, located on the hiking trail from Bort to Bussalp (close to the barbecue area). A «Mälchhysi» is a small cottage for milking cows and «Nodhalten» is the name of the area.
Maybe you'll get the chance to see or visit one of these spots.
You can even download an app with a museum guide in English. And that's for a museum with ancient history – if that's not active progress…
Special exhibitions this year: Storm disaster of August 1906 and its consequences as well as 50 years of the Japanese Direttissima in the North Face of the Eiger.
Opening hours and prices:
2 June to 13 October 2019 / open from 3 to 6pm (except on Saturdays and Mondays)
Adults CHF 7.00 (CHF 5 with Grindelwald guest card) / Children CHF 2
On request, you can also enjoy a guided tour of the museum or even the village – followed by an aperitif with local products if you like.
#4 Valley & Legends Museum Lauterbrunnen
The museum building bears the name «Die Mühle», which means «The Mill» in German. Grain was probably ground here until the middle of the 19th century – the millstone can still be seen on the small square in front of the building. The mill owner was also a baker and grocer. In the museum you'll find other reasons why the house near the church was an economic and even political centre in the valley back in the days.
Nature's a prerequisite for agriculture and tourism, the livelihoods of the population. There are three periods in the history of the valley inhabitants: First, the period of political unrest during the reign of the monastery of Interlaken until the Reformation in 1528, then the quiet centuries until the fall of the Old Confederation in 1798 under the Bernese patriciate and finally the modern era of democracy and tourism. The «Lötschenglocke» (special kind of bell) and the Gothic stained glass were part of the first church built in 1488.
On 15 June, the museum will start its season and the exhibition will be innovatively extended – namely with Switzerland's first Legends Museum.
The operators want to make the world of legends from the Lauterbrunnen valley accessible and put it in the limelight. The mighty nature of this valley has always impressed its inhabitants. Hans Michel, a local writer, in the preface to his book on legends:
«Some of them dating back to pagan prehistory, Lauterbrunnen's circle of legends contains most of the mythological motifs of origin, such as the banishment of spirits and other magical arts, the transmigration of souls, the omens threatening the healing process, snakes, meerkats and giants. The leitmotifs of others are the Blüemlisalp, lost through sin, ghosts, poltergeists, weather signs, dragons, hidden treasures, witch and devil works.»
Opening hours and prices:
15 June to 6 October 2019 / open from 2 to 5.30pm (closed Monday - Thursday)
With guest card of Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Stechelberg, Gimmelweld, Wengen: Free of charge
With guest card from other villages in the Jungfrau Region: CHF 4
Withouth guest card: CHF 5
Locals and Kids: Free of charge
#5 Museum of Landscape Hasli
«Hasli» is the abbreviation of Haslital – it's one of our holiday regions and the valley is nestled between the Brünig, Grosse Scheidegg, Susten and Grimsel passes. The Hasli Museum of Landscape is located in one of the small villages, in fact in Innertkirchen.
Customs and cultural assets are quickly lost in today's fast-moving world. The museum collects and documents these contemporary witnesses and the trade and change of earlier times. In special exhibitions episodes and historical events from the Haslital are illuminated.
- Where does the «Hasli eagle» come from?
- What are «Strahlen»?
- Why was the Hasli once important on «the North - South route»?
- When was the course of the Aare river in the valley floor corrected?
To be honest, we have no idea either. But these and many other exciting stories can be experienced and uncovered in the museum.
The special exhibition deals with past village fires in the Haslital. Village fires, above all connected with so called «Föhn» storms, had to be endured by many communities in the valley. The Haslital's known as a «Föhn» valley – it's referring to a warm and dry falling wind, which occurs in the Alps. These winds haven’t changed much over the years but modern building methods and more progressive fire brigades have helped to prevent major fires.
Fancy a little stroll after the visit: The «Säge Mühletal» is connected to the museum. The old sawmill near the village of Innertkirchen was still in use until the middle of the 20th century. The community has now restored the saw with a lot of commitment. The aim is to preserve an interesting building from the history of the valley.
Opening hours and prices:
1 June to 13 October / 3 pm to 6 pm
Admission to the museum is free of charge. However, donations are always welcome.
Guided tours for groups are possible, prices on request.
We hope that we’ve been able to inspire you to take a trip to one of the various museums – it’s worth it and the operators, who put a lot of effort into keeping these traditions alive, are looking forward to your visit. A paragliding flight in front of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau is also great and perhaps more thrilling but don’t forget: Knowledge is power!