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 “The Incredible World of Photography”

BASEL, SWITZERLAND, 18 July 2020 – In an exhibition conceived and carried out in cooperation with the Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, Basel, the Kunstmuseum Basel presents “The Incredible World of Photography”. From 18 July to 4 October 2020 the exhibition showcases a selection of 406 historical photographs and objects from the Fotosammlung Ruth und Peter Herzog. Since 2015, the collection has been integrated into the holdings of the Kabinett as an independent entity under its original name.


For the Kunstmuseum, the Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, Basel has designed an innovative exhibition scenography that is directly inspired by the setting and methods of the Kabinett’s own archive and display work and its sustained engagement with the rich material spectrum of historical photography. A succession of nine galleries illuminates the Fotosammlung’s unique characterization as an ‘encyclopedia of life’ (Martin Heller, 1989). In each room, the display invites the visitor to sample the ways in which photography presents a vast diversity of motifs and themes, from the contemplation of sets in arrangements on tables to wall projections of solitary images. The design is informed by careful considerations of the presentation and perception of the artifacts (many of which are small format and light-sensitive). These are topics that have similarly occupied Herzog & de Meuron as an architectural practice since many years in the presentation of their own work.


The selection of photographs and objects is also publicly accessible through the Fotosammlung Online, presented in a first ‘Editorial’ as an exemplary introduction to the digital counterpart of the collection.


The Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, Basel, is a charitable foundation established in 2015, comprising of three sub-Kabinetts—architecture, art, and photography—with the aim to keep these holdings intact as a cultural asset and to work with them in their specificity. “Our goal, first and foremost, is to have the estates permanently domiciled in Basel in their entirety, such that they may contribute to the cultural substance of our native city, which has been a lifelong inspiration to us.” —Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (July 2020).





Parallel Exhibitions at Partner Institutions

As part of a cooperation between the Basel museums and the Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, Basel, treasures from the Fotosammlung Ruth und Peter Herzog are being exhibited simultaneously in the Kunstmuseum Basel, in the Historisches Museum and from September in the Antikenmuseum.


Kunstmuseum Basel

The Incredible World of Photography. Ruth and Peter Herzog Collection

(18 July 2020 – 4 Oct. 2020)


Historisches Museum Basel

The Medieval & the Modern – Fotografien aus der Sammlung Ruth und Peter Herzog

(18 July 2020 – 4 Oct. 2020)


Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig

Oriental Grand Tour. Photographs from the Ruth and Peter Herzog collection.

(13 Sept. 2020 – 13 Dec. 2020)


Donor Foundations of the Inventory Project 2015–2020:

The initial comprehensive inventory project to catalogue and systematically digitize the collection of the Fotosammlung Ruth und Peter Herzog and make it publicly accessible has been made possible by the financial support of several donor foundations: the Christoph Merian Foundation, the Swisslos-Fonds Basel-Stadt, the Ernst Göhner Foundation, the Swisslos-Fonds Basel-Landschaft, the Sophie and Karl Binding Stiftung, the UBS Culture Foundation, an anonymous donation, and by contributions from the office of Herzog & de Meuron Basel.


The progress of this archiving initiative over the past five years becomes visible to the public with the launch of the digital ‘Enzyklopädie’: the Fotosammlung Online.




Olga Osadtschy, Paul Mellenthin (eds), Exposure Time. Photographs from the Collection Ruth and Peter Herzog. Publication on the occasion of the exhibition: “The Incredible World of Photography. Ruth and Peter Herzog Collection,” Kunstmuseum Basel, 18 July – 4 October 2020, Basel: Christoph Merian, 2020.