Although Basel in Switzerland is relatively a small city with only 180,000 people, it has made a name internationally. But however tiny is this town, it is rich with culture and the art, which make it popular around the world.
In Hong Kong's own version of Art Basel, which runs from March 27 to 31 at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai, it revealed what makes Basel different from other cities in Switzerland. Aside from its beauty and culture, it is its commitment to art makes it stands out.
According to The South China Morning Post, the older part of Basel can be seen up in the hill on the loop of the Rhine. Its picturesque beauty looks like it comes out from an Advent calendar of Brother Grimm fairytale illustration. It also has a river and a few bridges that funded a large cathedral.
Basel's hilltop is covered with beautiful mansions. Here also sits Switzerland's oldest university, which was founded in 1460. Tourists, too, can see the Amerbach family's extensive art collection here. It is composed of 15 works from famous German artist Hans Holbein the Younger, who is behind the portraits of scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam, England's King Henry VIII, and other Renaissances.
Basel and the university bought the art collection when the family started to have a difficult life in 1661. The collection was then used to open the world's first public art gallery. In no time, it became one of the city's major attractions.
With the Basel's love for art, even its houses hold its own art museum. In fact, the smallest museum in the city is a two-foot-by-two-foot window in the front door of a 600-year-old house, called Pants Pocket Museum or Hoosesagg Museum, located in Imbergässlein (Ginger Alley), per Atlas Obscura.
It holds a collection of everyday objects and memorabilia like toothbrushes, porcelain shoes, Pez dispensers, and even Pokémon. In an effort to avoid passersby's eyes, as it is also the home of Basel's first midwife and has a beautiful façade that includes a painting of St. Christopher, the homeowners Dagmar and Matthias Vergeat decided to build a small museum in their front door.
"We left [them] for three, four, five months, and then thought, 'It's boring, always having the same thing,'" Dagmar said about the small museum. So, the Vergeats started to alternately change the displays. Now, it has Swiss cowbells, doorbell buttons, sunglasses, and nativity scene figurines, among others. It also invites people with a collection of 30 or more small items to try exhibiting their stuff in the tiny museum.