Winter in Switzerland: historical tourism posters in the APG|SGA eMuseum

Nov. 4, 2020

Broad pistes, steep couloirs, gigantic half-pipes – with over 200 ski areas, Switzerland offers everything a winter sports enthusiast might desire. It was thanks to snow-capped Alps and historic tourism posters that Switzerland became one of the world’s favourite travel destinations. And today, these vintage posters continue to inspire fans of winter sports and poster culture alike. A virtual exhibition in the APG|SGA eMuseum allows visitors to experience the charm of historic posters, with a presentation featuring winter motifs from the last century.

In Switzerland, winter sports developed in parallel with tourism. In 1860, spa hotels started keeping their doors open in winter, which meant guests were looking for new physical activities and adventures in the snow. The English played a key role in popularising ski trips in the Swiss mountains. Alongside general posters advertising winter holidays in Switzerland, destinations such as Arosa, Davos, Gstaad, Pontresina, St. Moritz and Villars vied for travellers’ attention with posters by renowned artists.

“The winter sports posters of the last century generally featured artistic depictions of the human body, whether active or at rest. Combined with the characteristic assets of a ski resort, these developed into expressive symbolic images. These posters radiate an idyllic, romanticising charm. Later posters by Swiss artists such as Hans Falk are characterised by large-scale symbols and an intentional lack of detail. In the 1930s, the photo posters of Walter Herdeg and Herbert Matter created a new, revolutionary aesthetic inspired by international art movements,” explains Nico Lazúla Baur, curator of the virtual exhibition at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich.

The winter poster campaigns of today still tend to focus on spectacular mountain vistas and a range of activities – although lately they’ve also been highlighting winter fun with health precautions. This is how the tourism sector inspires visitors to take their winter holidays in Switzerland.

Further information
Virtual poster exhibition “Winter in Switzerland
Part of the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich’s poster collection is available to view in its online catalogue.
Posters from the collection can also be ordered as reproductions for private use. 

Panorama of poster art 
The poster collection at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich is one of the most important archives of its kind in the world. It contains around 350,000 objects, with about 120,000 digitally catalogued, all documenting the national and international history of the poster from its origins to the present day. From this pool, the APG|SGA eMuseum draws exhibits for its occasional virtual exhibitions, which have provided financial and cultural support for the museum for years now. The diversity of historical, thematic and geographic subjects results in both a panorama of poster art and a glimpse into a visual archive of day-to-day life.