Local wildlife and animal species from around the world are displayed, including a stuffed whale, the only specimen of its kind. There are many temporary exhibitions held here.
You will also find a unique collection of historical household appliances: mechanical vacuum cleaners and irons from different eras, and everything to do with the "art" of washing since the 19th century.
The museum of art and history has been standing at the heart of the charming old town of Fribourg since almost two centuries. Today it is housed in three different buildings that couldn’t possibly be more different: In the noble Ratzehof city palace, in a former slaughterhouse and in a disused armory.
Visitors are amazed at the size and diversity of this the largest collection of sculptures throughout the country; which includes works from the 12th century up until today, as well as plastics from the artist couple Jean Tingly and Niki de Saint Phalle. But that’s not all - in the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire you can immerse in the story of stained glass, and also be inspired by the sophistication of the old goldsmiths. Last but not least, the Ratzehof city palace lures visitors with its stately French-style gardens and beguiling roses.
As they rattle and clatter, wheeze and pant, the sophisticated and dynamic works of art by the artist Jean Tinguely exert an extraordinary fascination on viewers. And you could spend hours here trying to understand the complex mechanics, the likes of which are second to none.
Inside the Espace Tinguely it’s easy to see time while away - as the spacious, bright room of the disused tram depot, which is located just a few steps from the cathedral, invites you to linger. Anyone who has then seen enough of Tinguely's infernal machines can admire the beautifully round and harmonious shaped sculptures of his wife Niki de Phalle. Also exciting are the regular exhibitions that present additional artists in a dialogue with the works of Jean Tinguely or his wife, Niki de Saint Phalle.
Cardinal is a beer brand known all over Switzerland. In the brewery museum the history of the brewing business in Fribourg comes alive again. A former brewery professional takes the visitors through the museum and explains the local cultural heritage.
At the age of 15, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944) was sent to Fribourg by his mother, where she hoped he would be spared from having to serve in World War I – and she was right. During his time in Fribourg, Saint-Exupéry grew fond of a number of places that had made an impression on him, returning to them years later despite his usual refusal to return to any city he had once lived in.
One of the places that had inspired him was the Escaliers du Collège staircase, which he climbed on his way to Collège Saint-Michel, and Villa Saint-Jean, where he had studied between 1915 and 1917. Most likely, the staircase reminded him of the famous traboules in Lyon, his hometown. Saint-Exupéry was not a good student; he preferred to daydream, stare out the window and admire the view. On the wall of the adjoining church were visible traces of the cannon ball fire that hit it in 1798 – no doubt a shocking reminder to Saint-Exupéry of the massacres taking place at that very moment in his native France.
Fribourg is very fond of the author and has named one of the streets that passes by the college after him: rue Antoine-de-Saint-Exupéry. Saint-Exupéry was also fascinated by the funicular, which was built in 1899 using state-of-the-art technology for the time and runs on waste water. It is now a listed historical monument. At the time Saint-Exupéry was in Fribourg, buildings tended to be adorned with rounded roofs – a fashion that will have appealed to the writer, as he had a dislike of sharp angles and corners. In his works, he mentions numerous Fribourg buildings and structures, one of which, Villa Gallia, still stands today. Guided tours following in the footsteps of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry are organised by Fribourg Tourisme.