The "Arts and Crafts from Switzerland'' exhibition, donated to the Bangladesh National Museum, consists of a collection of arts and crafts developed through the centuries from the various regions within Switzerland. The exhibition is made up of around 150 objects. It was prepared by Federal Department of Foreign Affairs' Cultural Service in Switzerland with the aim to facilitate inter-cultural dialogues in the countries where it would be exhibited.
Traditional arts and crafts in Switzerland
Arts and crafts developed across the centuries through the manufacture of objects for everyday use still reveal today various influences which know no political boundaries. Arts and crafts from northern Switzerland, for example, are clearly part of the Alpine culture, while a Latin influence dominates in the Tessin. The differences are most marked in the types of motifs and decoration used.
There are two distinct types of traditional arts and crafts - rural and urban. The rural arts and crafts are influenced by the rural way of life; cattle, working the land and the rural lifestyle are the themes most often used in this case. The urban arts and crafts, which reveal the influence of different cultural currents which originated in European cultural centres such as London, Munich, Paris or Rome also left their mark in Swiss towns.
Rural arts and crafts flourished in particular in the areas where the population enjoyed a certain level of freedom and prosperity attained through either the fertility of the soil or the work people did at home. In contrast, areas characterised by large estates owned by the nobility did not produce traditional arts and crafts.
In the 19th century traditional rural handicrafts truly blossomed in the area extending from eastern Switzerland (Appenzell) to the Bernese Oberland and the neighbouring Emmental, a major centre of production of ceramics. The cow - a traditional symbol of prosperity, was a very popular motif for decoration, as were figures dressed in middle-class clothes, demonstrating a certain desire for social betterment.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the rapid industrialisation of many parts of Switzerland resulted in the loss of many aspects of a rich national culture. In contrast to the Scandinavian countries, for instance which made the most of their traditions to revive them in modern interior design, Switzerland did not succeed in integrating traditional national popular art into contemporary lifestyle.
In the 1930s, however, Switzerland rediscovered the roots of its handicraft culture, allowing its heritage to blossom once again and enjoy a sort of renaissance - a phenomenon which at that time also bore a nationalist note which was not entirely harmless. The Swiss National Exhibition in 1939, however, marked a clear repositioning and an openness towards new ideas.
Today popular art is mainly influenced by the schools of applied art in the larger Swiss towns. New techniques are taught and foreign ideas are welcomed. In fact, contemporary popular art in Switzerland is also flourishing in the wake of major international cultural trends. National or regional motifs and decoration, and typical Swiss designs are used rarely, but with pleasing results.
'Arts & Crafts from Switzerland' exhibition donated to Bangladesh National Museum
The exhibition materials of "Arts and Crafts from Switzerland" were donated by the Government of Switzerland to the Bangladesh National Museum after travelling to over 20 countries. The exhibition was displayed at the Bangladesh National Museum in July-August 2004, drawing huge interest among general public in Bangladesh. Around 25,000 people visited the exhibition at that time. The exhibition has now found a permanent abode at the Swiss Corner of Bangladesh National Museum.