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The Collection of Decorative Arts of the Zurich Design Museum in the Museum Bellerive

The largest collection of international arts and crafts in Switzerland had its origin in the pattern collection of commercial production established in Zurich in 1875. It served as a model collection for teaching and research upon the founding of the Museum of Applied Arts, today known as the Zurich Design Museum, and of the Applied Arts School following shortly thereafter and known today as the School of Art and Design Zurich. Numerous national and international exhibitions were simultaneously conceived from the resources of the collection. Since the period of Art Nouveau, during which art handicraft blossomed to a unique and unprecedented degree, contemporary works have been considered as new acquisitions.

In 1968 the collection of the Applied Arts Museum was divided; graphics and posters remained in the Design Museum, while all objects made of glass, ceramics, wood, metal and textiles were moved to textile manufacturer Julius Bloch’s former villa, renamed «Museum Bellerive». Thanks to the extensive breadth and outstanding quality of the works, the Collection of Decorative Arts is an internationally significant collection of applied and fine art.

The Collection’s centres of emphasis include Art Nouveau works comprising all materials, as well as the department of textiles, art marionettes and modern ceramics. The textile collection is well-known beyond Switzerland. Its spectrum ranges from Coptic fabrics of the 4th to the 6th centuries, ancient Peruvian weaving from the 3rd to the 15th centuries, silk materials from the baroque to Art Nouveau, costumes of the 19th and 20th centuries to modern textile art, beginning in the 1950s and leading to a new, extensive direction in art. Europe, the USA and Japan are represented in this department with over 50 tapestries, textile sculptures and spacious installations. The ceramic department is particularly noted for valuable examples of Art Nouveau as well as contemporary European works. The glass department begins in antiquity, makes a fine showing of drinking glasses from historical epochs, but has the most to offer in the area between 1880 and post-1970 studio glass. The collection of metal craft with numerous Art Nouveau objectsembraces the last hundred years. The unique marionette collection by twentieth-century artists is highly regarded internationally; it includes Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s dada figures for “König Hirsch” (“King Deer”, 1918) and marionettes by the Russian artist Alexandra Exter of 1926. The multivarious resources are completed by an important musical instrument collection consisting of approximately 200 historical instruments with unique showpieces such as an alto recorder made by Thomas Coenrat Boekhout.

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