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Upcoming special exhibition

Bags – Icons & investments

History of a timeless accessory

19 October 2019 – 5 April 2020

This popular women’s accessory can be big or small, soft or hard, carried by a handle or slung over the shoulder on a strap. Adorned with splendid gold chains or simple and elegant – the handbag.

Bags have not always been cult objects for women only. In earlier times, both men and women carried pouches and bags. It was customary and practical to wear bags on belts or even as pouches slung around the waist under outer garments.

During the course of fashion history, the unisex bag gradually transformed into the handbag exclusively for female use. When close-fitting chemise dresses made of gauzy muslin came out, there was no choice other than to carry the pouch in the hand or on the arm.

It was not until 1875 that a handbag with a handle was introduced. Women quickly got used to always carrying a bag with a handle.

It was in the 20th century that handbags experienced their great boom. Bags such as the so-called Kelly bag became absolute cult objects and icons. Some of the greatest and most influential bag designers, including Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Gucci and Prada, started in the saddler business and originally produced luxury travel luggage.

The fact that the handbag became known as a symbol of femininity and an object of female desire had a lot to do with fashion staging.

Throughout history, one thing has remained the same: the handbag is a very personal object. It is a container that we use to keep and carry items that belong to us.

This exhibition with around 400 items provides insight into the history of handbags beginning from 1550, when they were made of fabric, tapestry, pearls and leather. The journey ends with exclusive and offbeat catwalk bags by contemporary designers and artists, including pieces from the hip Úna Burke, playful objects by Stasha Chimbur and luxurious bags by Ming Ray of London. The exhibition is rounded off with handbag art objects, such as the work made from alabaster by Barbara Ségal or that of Dutch conceptual artist Ted Noten, both unique pieces.

In short, this exhibition is heaven on earth for handbag lovers and can only be seen in Basel.

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The culinary world

Ristorante La Sosta

The culinary world

Ristorante La Sosta

For appetites both great and small. Open daily, with hot dishes available throughout opening hours.

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Including the current special exhibition

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Including the current special exhibition

Public tours

Tours are given on the 1st Saturday of each month at 2 p.m. Duration: About 1 hour.

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Our

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Opening hours, including holidays, for the museum, boutique, and Ristorante La Sosta.

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