Swiss Alpine Museum


The collection of the ALPS illustrates how the world changes, while zooming inand focusing on people’s relationship with the mountains. The objects in the collection tell the story of how people research the mountains, build their lives around them, discover them as tourist destinations, build infrastructure, invent new sports and leisure activities, depict mountains in art, exalt them as symbols, or destroy their ecologies.

There are around 4,000 objects, 1,000 written documents, approx. 13,000 prints and artworks, and c. 500,000 photographs in the alps collection. Set up by the Bern branch of the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) in 1905, ALPS later took over the collection and has continued to run it through to the present day. The majority of first-hand accounts come from Swiss people, documenting their activities in various mountain regions around the world. Photography, mountain sport, tourism, panoramas, and topographic reliefs are all key areas of the collection.

Erhard Loretan project

schwarz-weiss Fotografie von Rosa Wenzel am Spitzmeilen, um 1930.

Photo collection

Online Lost and Found Memories Office

Podcast Amuse-Bouche

It still exists, the unique collection of around 350 landscape reliefs that once made up a significant part of the permanent exhibition at the ALPS. Today, the focus of the exhibitions is on current social issues and the relationship between people and mountains. The reliefs – from schematic images to 3D prints – are safely stored in the depot in Zollikofen and can be viewed on a guided tour. It cannot be ruled out that this treasure trove of meticulous depictions of hills and mountain peaks will be on display again in the future as part of a show depot or similar.

Answers to other frequently asked questions about the collection can be found here.

The alps collection is constantly being updated, thanks to projects such as the collection’s participatory Lost and Found Memories Office. We also accept donations outside the framework of the Lost and Found Memories Office if they are a good fit with our concept for the collection. We carefully examine each donation. The infrastructure, staffing requirements, and specialist knowledge needed to care for, complete, and digitalize the collection all cost a lot of money – this is why we are forced to reject so many offers.

What we don’t collect anymore:
—SAC yearbooks (the collection is complete)
—Maps and geological maps from 1950 onwards
—Mountain paintings
—Flora and fauna

In principle, we’re interested in photographs and mountaineering equipment – but they do need to have a story and make some kind of statement about the period when they were in use. The following questions can help you to assess whether your intended donation is of interest to the collection:

Do you know:
—who the legal owner of the objects or photos was?
—whether the object/photograph documents a particular story (anecdote, event, or activity)?
—in which period the object was used or the photograph was taken?  
—whether the objects/photographs are connected to the Swiss mountains or to someone who lived in Switzerland?
—whether the objects/photographs are typical for their time?
—whether the objects/photographs have something to say about winter sports, alpinism, or mountain tourism?

If you can answer more than two of these questions with “yes”, please get in touch for an assessment:
Michelle Huwiler (objects)
Anita Mischler (photography)

There are some real treasures in our photo collection. We would be delighted if you want to decorate your blog, lecture, or living-room wall with them.

(Price per image ordered)

—CHF 150.– : Commercial use (marketing, publishing, exhibition catalogues, scholarly publications)
—CHF 75.– : Private individuals
—CHF 50.– : Non-commercial use (exhibitions, communications projects, research, cultural institutions, museums)
—Free of charge: Journalistic use, network partners, as part of a cooperative partnership with ALPS

Contact: Anita Mischler, 031 350 01 43

Would you like to find out more about our collection?

This summary of the collection concept provides more information about what is in the collection and the kind of collecting undertaken by alps. You'll find the summary (in german) here.

The ALPS lends objects from the collection free of charge to other museums and cultural institutions for their exhibitions.

We are happy to loan objects under the following conditions:
—The loan request is submitted in good time (three months before the exhibition opening)
—Loans are clearly labelled in the exhibition
—Information is provided about the history and context of the objects

Contact: Michelle Huwiler, 031 350 01 43