At night

awake or dreaming

28 April 2023 – 19 January 2025

During the hours of darkness, our experiences can vary between rest and exertion, the daily grind and a hint of adventure. Playing with light and shade, the exhibition reveals how we spend the night, what our fears are, and just what fascinates us about the night.

What do we do through the night? We don’t just spend it asleep. The exhibition shows how the world more or less beds down comfortably for the night and stays warm. Clever items keep mosquitos at bay and special objects like miniature mobile altars protect children.

Although young visitors to the exhibition need have no fear of the bogeyman under the huge bed, the exhibition does illustrate how night-time gives rise to fears, evil spirits, and devils. Heroes like Batman, a Japanese lady courtier, or many and diverse customs can banish them, however. And nightwatchmen provide a sense of security.

Unique backdrop
Light does this, too. Various types of lamp and carnival lantern that have accompanied Basel’s revellers through the dark for centuries light up the exhibition. Paintings, woodcut illustrations, and photographs also reveal the impressive nature of dawn and dusk as a backdrop.

It is certainly worth staying awake because a great deal goes on through the night, as the night owls interviewed for the exhibition reveal.

Over the winter, the Museum installed a camera on the neighbouring cathedral tower. Visitors to the exhibition can watch video footage of what went on through the night, and can immerse themselves in Basel’s nightlife through the medium of photography.

Love letters and beer-mat philosophy at our replica bar encourage visitors to reflect on their own relationship with the night. They can leave a written record of their dreams in our dedicated archive and vote on whether they see themselves as a lark or an owl.