The Ultimate Art Insider’s Guide to Basel, Switzerland

As Basel prepares to host the international fair Art Basel, we asked the experts for their tips on where to stay, eat, and play

von Bartha's installation for Art Basel's Parcours 2016 featuring French artist Bernar Venet
Photo: Courtesy of Art Basel

Next week, the art and design world will settle into the city of Basel, Switzerland, where the international fair Art Basel opens to the public June 14, with a private preview beginning June 12.

Founded in 1970, Art Basel has become the most prominent of contemporary art fairs with three iterations around the world (its other editions are in Hong Kong and Miami). And during fair week, it anchors an array of other exciting fairs including Design Miami/BaselPhoto BaselListeVolta14, and SCOPE Basel. While the fairs are a must, the city’s cultural offerings extend much further.

To get the insider’s perspective, Galerie’s arts and culture editor asks some of the world’s top gallerists, curators, and museum directors for their tips on what to see, and where to stay, eat, and shop in Basel.

Schaulager designed by Herzog & de Meuron Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Dominique Levy
Co-Founder of Levy Gorvy, New York 

“I stay at Les Trois Rois and love the breakfast at the brasserie there, which offers both French and Swiss cuisine. For dinner, a favorite is Restaurant Atelier Der Teufelhof, led by the chef Aschi Zahnd. I am looking forward to visiting the upcoming show “Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts” at Schaulager, the stunning Herzog & de Meuron–designed contemporary art warehouse.”

Recommended: Your Shapshot Preview of Art Basel Week 2018

Installation view of Sam Gilliam’s exhibition “The Music of Color,” at Kunstmuseum Basel Photo: Julian Salinas

David Maupin
Director of Lehmann Maupin, New York

“I stay at the Hyperion Hotel Basel because it’s close to the fair, and I’m there early every morning to install and rehang the booth. I’m one of the few dealers who makes it a point to be present for this, but it’s my favorite part!”

Recommended: What to See at the Armory Show, Volta, NADA, and the Independent

Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree, 2016, in the Münsterplatz for Art Basel’s Parcours section Photo: Courtesy of the artist and neugerriemschneider, Berlin

Mary Rozell
Global Head UBS Art Collection

“I always make a point to go to Liste, an art fair that spotlights emerging talent. This year I am so excited to visit the new Kunstmuseum Basel building, in particular the Sam Gilliam show titled ‘The Music of Color.’”

“The Volkshaus Basel is a welcoming restaurant with a garden that I return to again and again, and Zooloose is a great shop with brands like Margaret Howell and A.P.C. The ultimate for me, though, is a swim in the Rhine. Always bring a bathing suit!”

Recommended: The Woman Behind UBS’s Global Art Collection

Restaurant Chez Donati Photo: Courtesy of Chez Donati

Nicholas Baume
Director and Chief Curator of Public Art Fund 

“In the crush of the fair many people miss out on seeing Parcours, Art Basel’s public installation, this year centered around the Münsterplatz. It is curated by the very talented Sam Leuenberger and includes a number of terrific artists. Great public art in the historic center of Basel—it doesn’t get better!”

Museum Tinguely Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Capucine Milliot
Art Publicist, New York 

“I stayed at the Hotel Victoria, overlooking the Centralbahnplatz, for years, before staying at the Ramada. Do not expect anything fancy, but it offers a great view over the 1900s SBB train station. I make sure I stop at the Confiserie Bachmann while taking the tram to the fair. For restaurants, my favourite is Chez Donati. The l’ile flottante is reason alone to go to Basel! I then like to have a drink at the Trois Rois, first at the terrace overlooking the Rhein and then heading to the cigar bar downstairs to end the night. In the old city, the Bodega zum Strauss is a must for classic Italian. It’s also impossible to miss a dinner at the Kunstallean institution during the fair that boasts a more casual, arty vibe.”

“The city is home to some of the most prestigious museums in the world, and I never miss a visit to the Beyeler Foundation, the Schaulager and the Kunstmuseum. I will also try to go to the Museum Tinguely, and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.”

Fondation Beyeler Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Hans Ulrich Obrist
Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries, London 

“Perhaps because the Serpentine is also situated in a park, the Fondation Beyeler feels like home to me. As the artist Etel Adnan says, a day without seeing a tree is a wasted day. The amazing director Sam Keller and his amazing team curate an outstanding programme in Renzo Piano’s architecture, soon to be complemented with a new building by Peter Zumthor, architect of the Serpentine’s memorable garden pavilion of 2011.

“Look out for Philippe Parreno’s Water Lilies in the pond, which resonates so beautifully with the Monets of the Beyeler collection, currently on show in the exhibition, “Nature & Abstraction.”

Recommended: Diébédo Francis Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion Unveiled in London

Contemporary fashion boutique Set & Sekt. Photo: Courtesy of Set & Sekt

Marc Payot
Director of Hauser and Wirth, New York 

“My favorite place to dine is the Michelin-star-rated Stucki Bruderholz located in an old manor in the south of Basel. In terms of shopping, I always make sure to stop into Set & Sekt on Rümelinsplatz, a contemporary fashion boutique with a great curation of pieces.”

 

The Nomad Hotel Basel Photo: Courtesy of the Nomad

Sven Eisenhut
Director of Photo Basel, Basel

“My favorite hotel is The Passage. It’s a family-owned boutique hotel in the very heart of the city. Hotel Teufelhof is well known to most Basel locals and boasts a homey feel, serving great food and wine. Another lovely place to stay is Nomad, which is right across the street from Kunstmuseum Basel.”

“For healthy options, I like go to Ufer 7. They do wonderful homemade salads and panini with a balcony overlooking the Rhine. During Art Basel week, a great spot is the pop-up Klingeli. Trio is also worth a visit and is very close to Claraplatz—in the middle of photo basel, SCOPE and I NEVER READ art fair.”

Andreasplatz is a fantastic place in the middle of Basel’s historical old town. Make sure to go for a stroll into Pfeffergässlein and look out for a hidden sign that claims to be the Consulate of Lepmuria! St. Margarethenkirche is a great location for a fantastic view of Basel. Holzpark Klybeck is a social spot that constantly moves around—it’s a lot of fun!”

Volkhaus restaurant Biergarten Photo: Courtesy of Volkhaus

Stefan von Bartha
Director of von Bartha, Basel 

“My top pick for restaurants is the Volkshaus. The garden is unique, the service is fantastic, and the restaurant was designed by no other than Herzog & de Meuron. They also have a great art collection. My other go-to is the Rhyschänzli. The Campari Bar is the place to meet during the fair but the Renée bar is also excellent for an evening drink.”

“For our friends and collectors, we always book the Hotel Krafft. It has a great view, cosy rooms, and is set right by the river.”

“Make sure you visit the Kunsthalle Basel. If you are lucky you might bump into Elena Filipovic; she is undoubtedly the best Kunsthalle director we have ever had! She has a great vision and is an incredible entrepreneur for contemporary art.”

Raphaela Vogel, Installation view, Ultranackt, view on Kopfschuss, 2018, Kunsthalle Basel, 2018 Photo: Philipp Hänger / Kunsthalle Basel. Courtesy of the artist; BQ, Berlin; and Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zurich.

Silvia Karman Cubiñá
Director of the Bass Museum, Miami

“Design Miami’s Collector’s Lounge is a compelling design-learning experience as you sit, meet people, and have coffee on new designer chairs and tables. This year’s lounge will feature Brazilian modern and contemporary design presented by Sao Paolo gallery ETEL.”

“I love Hotel Basel in the Old Town and no trip to Basel is conceivable without a visit to the Fondation Beyeler, which always has such great exhibitions!”

Recommended: Miami Beach’s Expanded Bass Museum of Art Reopens

Vitra Design Museum Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Nina Zimmer
Director of The Kunstmuseum Bern and the Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern

“My special tip for Basel is an exhibition in a young Basel gallery called Weiss/Falk. Carona is a tiny village in Swiss Ticino where the German-born Swiss photographer Meret Oppenheim lived and would gather an unlikely group of artists around her in the summers. The show is curated by Arthur Fink and Oskar Weiss and includes work by Anton Bruhin, Hermann Hesse, Matthyas Jenny, Urs Lüthi, Meret Oppenheim, Markus Raetz, Iwan Schumacher, Peter Schweri, and David Weiss.”

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