The Tibet Museum in Gruyères, Switzerland, is an important collection of historic Buddhist sculptures, paintings and ritual items from the Himalayas.
The Alain Bordier Foundation’s Tibet Museum in the heart of medieval Gruyères in Switzerland has an important collection of around 300 items including Buddhist sculptures, paintings, drawings and religious ritual instruments. These items mostly came from Tibet but also from other Himalayan regions such as Nepal, Kashmir, Swat, India and Burma. For many of the day-trip visitors to Gruyères, the collection of the Tibet Museum may be a bit too specialized to easily enjoy but it does offer a wonderful insight into historic Buddhist art in a very peaceful setting.
The Tibet Museum in Gruyères, Switzerland
The Tibet Museum in Gruyères in Fribourg in Switzerland was founded in 2009 by the Alain Bordier Foundation. This small museum has a large number of historic artifacts – especially religious statues, drawings and paintings – from Tibet and other regions in the Himalayas.
The Tibet Museum is fairly small – it is basically one large hall with a passage linking to a former small chapel – but it is crammed full with around 300 art works. These are beautifully displayed while soft music and eastern smells create a very calm, mystic atmosphere on quiet days.
On arrival, visitors receive a folder (and flashlight as the exhibition area is fairly dark) with full descriptions of all the works on display.
The descriptions, available in several languages including English, French and German, are fairly comprehensive. However, the explanations of how the items are related or used in Buddhism and other religious rituals are somewhat limited. This is unfortunate, as visitors unfamiliar with eastern religions would benefit from a broader overview.
The museum has a large collection of very high quality. Many of the small statues and sketches have astonishingly fine details.
The items on display in the Tibet Museum are often far older than anything else that can be seen in medieval Gruyères. Most of the works correspond in period with the European Middle Ages with several as early as the 6th and 7th centuries and many more from before 1500.
Visiting the Tibet Museum in Gruyères, Fribourg
The Tibet Museum is at 4 rue de Château next to the HR Giger Museum. All visitors en route to Gruyères Castle pass right in front of these museums.
Opening hours of the Tibet Museum in Gruyères are:
- November to Easter: Tuesday to Friday afternoons from 1 to 5 pm and weekends from 11 am to 6 pm.
- Easter to October: daily from 11 am to 6 pm.
Admission tickets are CHF10 (CHF5 for children) or CHF15 for combination tickets with the Château de Gruyères. The Swiss Museum Pass is valid.
Visitors to the Tibet Museum in Gruyères cannot miss the adjacent HR Giger Museum of surrealist fantastic art mostly by the creator of the monsters in Alien.
These science fiction art, like the Buddhist works, are at first glance a bit at odds with the medieval surroundings in this small Alpine town but the Swiss are often quite at ease with mixing old and new.
Mores Sights in Gruyères
For many day-trip visitors, the more regular Gruyères Castle and the medieval old town may be easier to enjoy. Further nearby sights include the Gruyère Show Cheese Making Dairy, the Cailler chocolate factory in Broc and the hot-springs day spa at the Bains de la Gruyère in Charmey.
Transportation to Gruyères is easy by car or by train making this wall-enclosed medieval town with castle a very popular day-trip destination from Bern, Lausanne and the Lake Geneva region.