Keyvisual der Ausstellung "Sagenhafter Alpenraum" graue Berglandschaft mit schemenhaften Gesichtern

The alps in legend

Exhibition | accessibility.time_to


Listening to them gives you the shivers.

Folk tales tell of extraordinary, supernatural, or miraculous incidents. They recount stories in which ghosts, witches, even the Devil himself feature, or they may deal with historical figures and events.

Traditional tales are known from all parts of the country, but central Switzerland is especially rich in them. The exhibition focuses on well-known legends such as the tales of William Tell, the miraculous “Devils Bridge”, the fateful “Black Spider”, the fiery “Pilatus Dragon”, the enchanted “Blüemlisalp”, the vengeful “Sennentuntschi”, and the spooky “Toggeli”.


The alps in legend

Forum of Swiss History Schwyz | 23.4.2022 - 2.10.2022
published on 22.4.2022

Scary tales that give you goosebumps

Folk tales give you the shivers, leave you filled with wonder, and are fascinating at the same time. Are there such things as ghosts, dragons, witches, or even the Devil himself? What are tutelary symbols? And, how much truth is there in folk tales? From 23 April to 2 October 2022, the exhibition «The Alps in legend» at the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz tells about folk tales from the region of the central Alps and looks at their origins and how they spread.

The Devils Bridge, the Sennentuntschi, and, of course, the story of William Tell: these are just three examples of famous tales and legends from central Switzerland. Unlike fairy tales, legends are believed to be «true» and always bear reference to a specific place, person, event or time. They tell of extraordinary, supernatural, or miraculous incidents. They feature ghosts, witches, even the Devil himself, along with historical events and figures. No wonder they capture people’s imagination and make them shudder but, at the same time, they often also contain an educational, socio-critical, even moralizing element.

Who began collecting folk tales, when, and for what purpose? What’s behind these short stories? Superstition, folk religion, or even a shred of history as the example of William Tell seems to imply? And, what do we mean when we say that the motifs of legends «wander»?

The Black Spider and the Pilatus Dragon
These are just some of the questions the exhibition «The Alps in legend» at the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz (from 23 April to 2 October 2022) tries to answer. It is concerned with how tales and legends originate and spread but also questions their function and the impact they had. The show not only deals with tales transmitted by word of mouth and legends recorded in writing, but also with the rich imagery they generated. The focus is on famous folk tales such as the Black Spider, the Pilatus Dragon, or the enchanted Blüemlisalp. In addition, audio stations provide an opportunity to listen to many other tales from the Alps, allowing visitors to become immersed in a world of scary stories – and, possibly, making them realize after their visit what impact and significance these tales still have for us in present-day society and as individuals.

Evenings of storytelling and guided tours for young and old
A rich supporting programme invites those interested to learn more about the subject of tales and legends. In exciting guided tours, experts provide insight and interesting background information regarding the origins, reception, and various motifs of folk tales. Guided family tours and amulet workshops allow young and old to immerse themselves in the world of legends, and on special «storytelling evenings» listeners can experience from close-up typical folk tales from the cantons of Uri, Ticino, Valais and Schwyz.


For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us:

Pia Schubiger | exhibition curator | Swiss National Museum.
T. +41 41 819 60 15 | E-Mail:

Karin Freitag | Communications | Forum for Swiss History Schwyz.
T. +41 41 819 60 18 |



Entry to the exhibition «The alps in legend»

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


A view of the exhibition with mystical trees

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


A view of the exhibition – Narrating and collecting folk tales

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


A view of the exhibition – Folk tales and the invention of history

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


A view of the exhibition – Folk tales and superstition

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


A view of the exhibition – The supernatural reflected in folk tales

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


A view of the exhibition – Lord's Corner (with crucifix)

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


A view of the exhibition – Widespread motifs

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


A view of the exhibition – Urban Legends

Copyright © Swiss National Museum


Exhibition poster «The alps in legend»

Copyright © Swiss National Museum, Graphic Design by Büro Nord

Press contact Forum of Swiss History Schwyz

+41 41 819 60 18

Exhibition imprint

  • Overall management Denise Tonella
  • Project direction and concept Pia Schubiger
  • Research associate Magdalena Bucher
  • Public relations and marketing Karin Freitag-Masa (direction), Conny Lüönd
  • Cultural services and museum education Isabelle Marcon Lindauer
  • Scenography Martina Nievergelt / Ralph NicoteraLoosli Zehnder, Szenografie und Innenarchitektur, Basel
  • Graphic Design Clavadetscher Gestaltung für Kultur und Wirtschaft, Schwyz
  • Exhibition construction Alder Stahl und Schweiss, Atelier S&G, Bubu AG, formenformen gmbH, marty schreinerei gmbH,
    Luziferro AG, Perplex Plus AG, Utiger Maler AG, Roland Reichlin
  • Lighting design Marc Hägeli
  • Loan services Maya Jucker, Laura Mosimann, Angela Zeier
  • Conservation and mounting of objects Markus Leuthard (direction), Jürg Mathys (project direction), Charlotte MaierJürg Mathys
  • Logistics of objects and mounting of objects Christian Affentranger, David Blazquez, Simon D’Hollosy,
    Reto Hegetschweiler, Markus Scherer
  • Photographs Jörg Brandt, Zvonimir Pisonic
  • Photographic library Andrea Kunz, Fabian Müller, Remo Sidler
  • Lithographs and scans Georg Sidler
  • Animation and sound installation Movl GmbH Charlotte Germann und
    Tweaklab AG Kaspar Hochuli
  • Media planning, implementation and programming René Vogel (direction), Thomas Bucher, Pasquale Pollastro
    Tweaklab AG Hanspeter Giuliani, Dominik Schläpfer, Nica Giuliani, Remo Hobi
  • IT, Web and audio Thomas Bucher, Pasquale Pollastro, Danilo Rüttimann, René Vogel (Leitung)
  • Translations Marie-Claude Buch-Chalayer, Giovanna Planzi, Nigel Stephenson
  • Copy-editing Apostroph Luzern AG
  • We thank Hans Steinegger, Schwyz

Items generously loaned by

  • Annina Arter Textile & Surface Design, Zürich
  • Burgerbibliothek Bern, Grafische Sammlung
  • Gotthelf-Zentrum Lützelflüh
  • Grimm-Sammlung der Stadt Kassel
  • Sabine Hertig, Stampa Basel
  • Historisches Museum Luzern
  • Historisches Museum Obwalden,
  • Sammlung Hanspeter Niederberger
  • Historisches Museum Uri, Altdorf
  • Hans Jörg Leu, Baden
  • Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum, Vaduz
  • Museum der Kulturen Basel
  • Museum Schloss Thun
  • Natur-Museum Luzern
  • Öffentliche Bibliothek der Universität Basel
  • Rätisches Museum, Chur
  • Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde Basel
  • Staatsarchiv Uri
  • Tell-Museum Bürglen
  • Pierre-Yves Tribolet, Le Mont-Pèlerin
  • Verkehrshaus der Schweiz, Luzern
  • Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Graphische Sammlung
  • ZHB Luzern Sondersammlung