The Museum of the Swiss Charters of Confederation is a history museum owned by the Canton of Schwyz. The exhibition shown in the museum explores both the history of the Old Swiss Confederacy and the many myths associated with that history. At the heart of the exhibition is the famed Federal Charter of 1291, which was long believed to be the founding document of the Swiss Confederation.
A HISTORY BUILT ON FACT….
The Museum of the Swiss Charters tells the story of the Old Swiss Confederacy: the politics of alliance between the “confederates”, their many conflicts and compromises, life in the Middle Ages, and of course the famous battles of Morgarten or Marignano. All these episodes in our history are brought to life in original documents and an impressive flag collection – the only one in existence to show the development of the Swiss and Schwyz cross.
Another theme of the exhibition in the Museum of the Swiss Charters is the “confederate” myths. What is the origin of the tale of William Tell, the evil Habsburg overlords or the Oath of Rütli?
Which of them are historically verifiable? In easy-to-understand language and supported by image and film material, the exhibition explains the meaning of our myths to Switzerland and its citizens’ sense of identity in the past and up to the present day.
The central aspect of the exhibition is the history of the Federal Charter of 1291. The exhibition explores its role in the Middle Ages and explains its significance in the Swiss nation state of the 19th and 20th centuries.
A PLACE OF PILGRIMAGE
The building that houses the Museum of the Swiss Charters is in effect also part of the exhibition. Built in 1936, it clearly reflects the essence of Spiritual Defence that dominated the mood in Switzerland at the time of the Second World War. The Museum of the Swiss Charters was then still a national place of pilgrimage, where the Federal Charter of 1291 was worshipped as a founding document on the “Altar of the Fatherland”.
MODERN EXHIBITION, TRADITIONAL SETTING
The current exhibition reflects the architecture of the building in its design and restores to the space the monumental and imposing quality originally intended at the time of Spiritual Defence. Myth and history are not played off against each other but are explored and explained as two equal sides of the same coin.