New Building Natural History Museum Basel and State Archive Basel-Stadt

The Natural History Museum Basel and the State Archive Basel-Stadt are housed in old town properties in need of renovation and manage several provisional, external depots. This is where the collections and archives are stored. Both institutions suffer from inadequate conditions in their magazines and warehouses, which poses a significant threat to the valuable archives and collections. They urgently need new premises to protect the valuable cultural assets with their unique holdings in the long term.

Natural History Museum Basel

The exploration, education and mediation of the local and global diversity of nature is becoming increasingly important. That is why the museum defines its mission to empower the people to deal responsibly with planet Earth and its resources.

The Natural History Museum Basel is responsible for and supervises regional and international important scientific collections. These witnesses of our nature store information about elementary parts of our planet. The 11.8 million objects (including minerals, fossils, insects, skeletons) are irreplaceable for researchers from all over the world for their scientific work.

State Archive Basel-Stadt

The State Archive Basel-Stadt is the historical memory and the central knowledge store of the canton of Basel-Stadt. It is one of the most frequented and popular archives with a wide range of user groups.

As an interface between past, present and future, the archive secures irreplaceable Basel cultural heritage from around a thousand years of history and makes it available to the public: written and audiovisual original sources as well as digital documents that reflect the activities of the authorities and the life of the population in Basel.


Where is the new building to be built?
The construction site for the planned building is located on a former railway area on Entenweidstrasse in Basel’s St. Johann district. The development of this part of Basel from a former industrial and workers' neighborhood into a popular, urban residential and cultural district continues unabated.
The perimeter covers 5,345 m2 of building space. In the south and west it borders on the track area of the railway. In the north it also includes the area below the Luzernerring bridge.
The attractiveness of the entire district around Voltastrasse and Vogesenplatz has grown steadily as part of the urban development process 'ProVolta'. The transformation of the area 'VoltaNord' (Lysbüchel area) north of the railway station St. Johann will also promote this development.

Added value
The new location is much better accessible by public transport than the museum at its present location on the Münsterhuegel. The tram stop 'Bahnhof St. Johann' is only a few steps away in front of the planned building. The city center and the SBB railway station can be reached in 10 minutes. In addition, the Voltaplatz and the Kannenfeldplatz are within walking distance and connect the new building to additional tram and bus lines.

The public use of the Natural History Museum and the State Archive will support the transformation of the district and increase the quality of life through the new center Vogesenplatz. It will also form a hinge between the neighboring quarters with their diverse range of population groups.

The building project

In June 2013, the parliament of the canton of Basel-Stadt confirmed the decision of the government to select an area in the north-west of Basel's city center for the joint construction of the Natural History Museum and the State Archive. The location is in the immediate vicinity of Vogesenplatz and St. Johann's railway station This decision was accompanied by the approval of the parliament, to spend a total of 11 million Swiss Francs for the project development on a new building for the two institutions under one roof.

For both institutions, this decision was preceded by potential studies for scenarios in the previous properties and extensive investigations on13 alternative locations throughout the city.

Anonymous project competition
In order to receive a high-quality project proposal, an anonymous project competition was held in 2014/15. 125 teams from all over the world applied to participate. In a prequalification, 22 teams were selected and invited to prepare a detailed project proposal.
Finally, the project ZASAMAME of the team EM2N architects from Zurich emerged victorious.

Details and plans of the building project
EM2N | Mathias Müller | Daniel Niggli Architekten AG


The building plan is for completion between 2020 and 2026. The moving in and setting-up phase will take one year in the case of the State Archive Basel-Stadt and two for the Natural History Museum Basel. After that, from 2027/2028, a new public building devoted to culture will be an exciting guidepost for the aspirational district of St Johann.


Figures Natural History Museum Basel 2020

11.8 Mio Objects in the collections
 88'836   Visitors
1'042 School groups (3/4 from Basel-Stadt)
5'660 Lending of collection objects to other museums or scientists

Scientific visitor days of a total of 72 scientists from 11 different countries of the world

Costs joint new building Natural History Museum and States Archive

143 Mio Part of Natural History Museum Basel
71 Mio Part of States Archive Basel-Stadt
214 Mio
total cost
one-time building expenses incl. relocation and installation costs and reserve

East elevation

New Building Natural History Museum Basel and State Archive Basel-Stadt, East © EM2N, Visualisation: Filippo Bolognese