For decades, the world's most prestigious art collectors would journey to Basel to worship at the feet of one of modern art's greatest gallery owners, Ernst Beyeler, the founder of Art Basel, who died in 2010. At the end of his phenomenal career, he left his incomparable collection to the public and commissioned the noted architect Renzo Piano to build a museum in the town of Riehen, on the outskirts of Basel. The Fondation Beyeler presents an astonishingly well-rounded collection of modern art, and Piano's simple lines direct attention to more than 200 great works. The collection's catalog reads like a who's who of modern artists—Cézanne, Matisse, Lichtenstein, and Rauschenberg.
In this bright and open setting, Giacometti's wiry sculptures stretch toward the ceiling and Monet's water lilies seem to spill from the canvas into an outdoor reflecting pool. Indigenous carved figures from New Guinea and Nigeria stare into the faces on canvases by Klee and Dubuffet. A stellar selection
of Picassos is juxtaposed with views of blue skies. Besides the permanent collection, several prestigious art exhibits every year attract art lovers from around the globe. The tram trip from Schifflände takes about 20 minutes. Public tours in English are offered one Sunday each month, or private tours can be arranged.