Many who spent their childhood in Switzerland have fond memories of it. Those with their own kids have most likely visited it lately. And those who consider themselves train, plane or automobile geeks have most definitely been hanging out there!
Of course, I am talking about the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne.
As one of Switzerland’s top museums, the Swiss Museum of Transport attracted more than 850’000 visitors in 2017 – that's roughly five visitors per minute!
As of our visit on a sunny August weekday, this statistic is about to go up. That’s because we have been reminded why we used to beg our school teachers and parents to take us here. Granted, we are a few years older, but we could not help but feel like kids again…
There are many good reasons why it is about time you visit the Swiss Museum of Transport. Here are our top five reasons:
From water to air, this museum covers every aspect of Swiss transportation.
On the sprawling museum grounds besides Lake Lucerne, there are numerous opportunities for kids of all sizes to step into the world of Swiss transport. From the past to the present (and even to the future), you will get to climb onboard curious vessels or step into vintage submarines or futuristic space stations.
Take the aviation section with its top-notch helicopter simulator. Anyone can take a seat inside, buckle up and embark on a rescue mission in the Swiss alps.
Also, Swiss Airlines has sponsored an entire section featuring lots of interactive stations. There is a playground of airplane cargo boxes or this flight simulator which we could not let go of:
Or how about the naval museum with its real-life submarine? Built in 1963 by the Piccards, a family of explorers, it is the only submarine approved for operation in Switzerland. And of course, it can be toured by the likes of you and me.
The history of the Swiss railway is made tangible.
As self-proclaimed train geeks, our favorite part of the permanent exhibit is the railway section. Inside giant halls, the most iconic engines from Switzerland’s past are resting. For instance, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia appear when we spot the classic “crocodile” locomotive.
One steam powered engine from 1936 was too big to fit inside the museum halls. Naturally, we had to check it out! Can you see the resemblance of the red and black color scheme with our Mondaine wrist watches? We noticed right away that this locomotive carries the colors of the official Swiss Railways clock...
A fairly new installation helps to grasp the sheer scale of the Gotthard Base Tunnel project, with samples of rock from the various alpine layers to touch and feel:
The Swiss railway exhibit is all but stuck in time!
With all these historic exhibits, you might conclude that the Swiss Museum of Transport is all about the past. Look around and you will see plenty of present and future themes, such as railway simulators, stations with VR goggles, and even a replica of future of railway technology: the "Giruno" SBB train will be connecting Switzerland's north and south starting in 2019.
A temporary "time tunnel" provided by Swiss Railways allows visitors to peek at the mobility of the future. Inside, there are a number of hands-on educational stations. The covered topics have real world significance, such as door-to-door mobility, self-driving technology or digitalization.
An interactive learning quiz challenges us to make an educated guess about some truly forward-looking concepts. Food for thought: With the population of Switzerland projected to reach between nine and eleven million people by the year 2045, what kind of infrastructure is needed to transport us from point A to point B?
The jury is still out, but it seems logical that we will have to find ways to use our limited resources more efficiently.
A simple yet effective exhibit sticks out as my personal favorite: a black and white video clip of what rail traveling used to be like illustrates how things have changed over time. As the clip moves from right to left, objects are seamlessly replaced with their contemporary cousins: a passenger’s hard-cover book turns into a thin tablet PC, a paper ticket morphs into a scannable Swiss Pass, or a station’s flip board goes LED.
A gigantic replica of the Gotthard rail line is heaven for train geeks.
We must have spent the better part of an hour exploring the large model railway depicting the northern access ramp to the Gotthard tunnel.
Every hour starting at 10:30 AM, the landscape comes alive: miniature cargo trains will pass trains with panoramic coaches. Some enter tunnels while others stop at the Erstfeld station. There is a frenzy of activity and more details than one can absorb.
And finally, there is a huge pond with paddle boats in the museum courtyard.
Because who doesn’t like paddle boats?!?
By now, you are probably counting down to your next museum visit… But wait: I may have just found the ultimate way of accelerating time!
While researching this article, I came across a playful online application featuring the official Swiss Railways clock. (I surely have a weak spot for this iconic clock which stops for two seconds at the top of the minute.) In fact, the clock design has not changed a bit since it was first commissioned in 1944. But this very app is about to change this, allowing anyone to mess with the clock face and create funny animations such as this one...
More information about the Swiss Museum of Transport
- Open 365 days per year (summer: 10 AM to 6 PM, winter: 10 AM to 5 PM)
- Check the museum website for temporary exhibits and events
Swiss Museum of Transport
Phone +41 41 370 44 44
(This story was made possible in collaboration with Mondaine Watches. They have provided two admission tickets to the Swiss Museum of Transport.)