The #museum

Among many other highlights, the eMuseum enables visitors to discover a wide range of Swiss design classics. Photograph: Regula Bearth © ZHdK

Museum access has never been as fast as it is today: simply one click away. The Museum für Gestaltung Zürich is also present in the digital world via its website, social media, eMuseum, and eGuide. This makes the museum more accessible, enables new stories to be told, and opens up new interactive channels of communication.


The Museum für Gestaltung Zürich and the ZHdK Archive recently launched the new version of their eMuseum. More than 100,000 objects are accessible on the largest Swiss online design and art database. The collection includes posters, furniture, graphics, jewellery, arts and crafts, photographs, drawings, sketches, and plenty more. Users may conduct specific searches, just “browse,” or search for biographies. The new site also enables users to curate their own virtual exhibitions, to survey important holdings, or to explore works by topic. And this all works without difficulty on a tablet or a Smartphone.

Online and offline – competition or cooperation?

Thus the new eMuseum is an ideal research tool. But how do the museum’s digital offerings affect onsite visits? After all, many objects at the eMuseum are exhibited on a regular basis at the museum. The fear that a digital museum offering free and comprehensive access might reduce vital revenue from ticket sales is perhaps not quite unfounded. But the experiences of other museums reveal that the positives outweigh such fears. One example is Frankfurt’s Städelmuseum. Besides its digital collection or inhouse Youtube productions, the museum has been offering its visitors digital introductions since 2015. These inductions have a keen following and are widely shared. So although 280,000 people downloaded the introduction to the Monet exhibition, for instance, it still attracted the museum’s highest number of visitors ever. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has its own Digital Department. Its exclusively digital “fourth space” sets out to make the museum’s collections and exhibitions even more accessible and more understandable. As an article published in “Die Zeit” observed already years ago, the fear of competition from new media is water under the bridge. What counts today is the interplay between offline and online.

Four digital mainstays for the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich

The Museum für Gestaltung backs this interplay and is venturing step by step onto digital terrain. It will soon have four mainstays: its website, social media, its eMuseum, and from spring 2018 an eGuide for long-term, collections-focused exhibitions at its new-old site on Ausstellungsstrasse. The eGuide is a web-based app. While the museum website provides key information, and while social media contents are meant to stimulate discussion on design topics among the museum’s international audience, the eMuseum enables users to explore contents in-depth. The eGuide, in turn, is designed to guide visitors through exhibitions and to impart more detailed information on exhibits in an appealing multimedia format.

New narrative forms

Thus, the omens are favourable that digital media will diversify narrative forms at the Museum für Gestaltung and will open up new channels of communication. This expansion will enable the museum to engage more purposefully with diverse visitor groups and to cater for their different interests. It will ensure contents are conveyed more effectively. Last but not least, the eMuseum and eGuide interlink the real world and the digital world. Thus the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich is not simply going with the times, but is also offering younger generations a window into design history and simplifying audience interaction. Although the expanded digital museum is not (yet) generating revenue, it definitely adds value: design knowledge is more accessible for everyone than ever before.

Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 96, Zurich
From March 2018 also at Ausstellungsstrasse 60, Zurich
Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm, Wednesday 10am–8pm


Leona Veronesi ( is a communications officer at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich.
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