The Cosmos – An Enduring Mystery

  • Until 31 May 2015

    The great timekeepers of our earthly existence are the celestial bodies surrounding us, especially the moon and sun. Humans have been trying to explain them and decipher them for thousands of years. What is the universe, the ordering principle underlying the firmament?

    People throughout history have sought to answer this question starting from different premises and taking different approaches. This exhibition explores the great enigma that is the universe. Alongside cosmologies and creation myths from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Polynesia, those of the western world from Egypt and Mesopotamia to the Germanic peoples and the biblical account in Genesis will also be presented, as will the history of European scientific inquiry. While the exhibition cannot answer the question of what the universe actually is, it does provide a fascinating picture of just how different interpretations of its fundamentals can be.

    The show will feature numerous multimedia exhibits, as well as the Planetarium Zurich, that is to be a guest of the Museum Rietberg for the duration.

    Based on the exhibition idea by Martin Brauen and his exhibition "Visions of the Cosmos", which was shown at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York in 2009.

    Generously supported by the Parrotia Foundation.

    Media reviews

    "Das Leben weben"
    (Tages Anzeiger, 15.01.2015)

    "Le Cosmos: mystère de l'Humanité"
    (Radio Télévision Suisse, www.rts.ch, Babylone, 12.01.2015)

    "Sinnlich gestaltetes Staunen"
    (Tages Anzeiger, 30.12.2014) 

    "Der Kosmos und der göttliche Funke"
    (Basler Zeitung, 24.12.14)

    "Der Rabe als Weltenschöpfer"
    (NZZ, 20.12.2014)

    "Eine Sekunde vor Mitternacht"
    (Der Landbote, 19.12.2014)

    "Der Himmel und die Menschen"
    (St. Galler Tagblatt, 17.12.2014)

    "Ausstellungsbesprechung: Kosmos - Rätsel der Menschheit"
    (Kultur kompakt, Radio SRF 2 Kultur, 17.12.2014)

    "Grosses Mythenkino"
    (Annabelle, 17.12.2014)

    "Wenn der Mensch in die Sterne blickt, sucht er nach Antworten"
    (www.srf.ch, 16.12.2014)

    "Auf ins All!"
    (journal21.ch, 12.12.2014)

    "Der Kosmos - ein Rätsel in allen Kulturen"
    (SRF1, Tagesschau Hauptausgabe, 11.12.2014)

    "Eine Reise durch Raum und Zeit"
    (20 Minuten, 10.12.2014)

    «An Enduring Mystery – The Cosmos»
    (mygirlfriendguide.com, 30.12.14)

    Exhibition trailer


    The History of the Universe in 24 hours

    with Ben Moore

    A film by Ben Moore, Simon Guy Fässler, Albert Lutz


    Let there be light. Creation myths.

    The known Universe

    Idea and Co-Executive Producer: Martin Brauen; Director: Carter Emmart; Executive Producer: Ro Kinzle

  • Highlights of the exhibition


    Rietberg Talk and Rietberg Plenum
    A series of talks organised and moderated by Rolf Probala, former chief editor of the current affairs programme Tagesschau and communications chief for the Science City project, ETH Zürich. His many guests will include Claude Nicollier and Ben Moore. 

    Weaving the Cosmos: Meghann O’Brien
    Meghann O’Brien, a Haida/Kwakwaka’wakw artist who lives in Alert Bay, British Columbia, will make a two-week guest appearance at Museum Rietberg. During this time she will weave a ravenstail and chilkat blanket employing a complex technique used by the artists of the Northwest Coast of North America since ancient times. 13–25 January 2015.

    Lecture series: Cosmos – Image of the World and Creation Myths (in German)
    Volkshochschule Zürich, starting 6 January 2015
    Information and registration: www.vhszh.ch

    Films on the cosmos theme at Filmpodium Zürich

    Cosmos at Theater Rigiblick


    All events (in German) More »


    Press More »

    Planetarium Zürich

    The desire to find out more about the mysteries of the universe has been ubiquitous since time immemorial. Planetarium Zürich will be a guest at Museum Rietberg for the entire duration of the exhibition; by presenting the movements of the celestial bodies in time-lapse it will simulate cosmic processes based on the latest findings of space missions and space research.

    Concept and production: Matthias Hofer and Urs Scheifele, Planetarium Zürich

    The Planetarium is supported by the Friends of Planetarium Zürich

    Cooperation partners

    Verkehrshaus Luzern

    Planetarium im Verkehrshaus Luzern

    Planetenweg Uetliberg