The Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich, or Völkerkundemuseum Zürich, is located directly in the old botanical garden, not far from the city’s major sights and attractions. The Ethnographic Museum is within easy walking distance of the railway station, Lake Zurich, the lively shopping area and the FIFA Museum. Although the botanical garden is certainly nicer to visit in spring or summer, the museum itself is worth every visit, no matter what time of year. Admission to the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich is free of charge, which makes the museum a popular destination, not only among tourists.
The current exhibition at the time of my early 2019 visit, on the first floor of the ethnographic museum, featured “Map – Trace – Encounter. The Tibet Collections of Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter”. Not only are photographs and memorabilia of the journey to Tibet on display, the two men spent 7 years in Tibet towards the middle of the last century, involuntarily. Their experiences were also recorded in the book Seven Years in Tibet, which has not only been translated into numerous languages, but several films also tell the true story. The two men set out in April 1939 as participants in an expedition organised by the German Himalayan Foundation to climb the eight-thousand-metre peak Nanga Parbat in Kashmir. Harrer had previously been one of the first climbers of the north face of the Eiger, in 1938, but the outbreak of the Second World War saw the troop interned and detained in northern India by the British Army. They did not manage to escape until five years later. In May 1944, they reached the Tibetan highlands and headed east towards Lhasa, where they settled for seven years. For the first time, the exhibition at the Völkerkundemuseum Zürich establishes a connection between the two estates of the explorers, Harrer and Aufschnaiter.
At that time, the exhibition “Map – Trace – Encounter. The Tibet Collections of Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter” took place from 28th October 2018 to 8th September 2019.
Address Ethnographic Museum: Pelikanstrasse 40, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland
Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10 am-5 pm Thursday 10 am-1 pm Saturday 2 – 5 pm Sunday 11 am-5 pm, closed on mondays
Entry free of charge