Portrait History

History and architecture

Old Observatory

Muesmattstrasse 25

The Institute of Astronomy founded in 1921 already commenced its astronomical observations in 1922 at the Muesmatt Observatory. Locations within the built-up area are problematic owing to the height, the air quality and above all the scattered light. The desire therefore arose at an early stage for a more suitable location that was found in Zimmerwald. Professor Mauderli, the initiator of the observatory in the Muesmatt district, was no doubt aware of this handicap at an early stage. As a promoter of astronomy also at secondary and elementary schools, he clearly preferred good accessibility to ideal conditions for research – a dilemma that often gives rise to a different approach today. Today's use by various groups shows that the building is still capable of awakening the enthusiasm of a large audience for the concerns of the discipline.

Sternwarte Muesmatt

The small neoclassical building contains a central section with a superimposed observatory dome and two extensions at a lower level. The pathos formulas of the flight of steps, the symmetrical temple front with pilasters and beams etc. are not simply to be explained as stylistic elements that were widespread in the 1920s. Instead, the architect, whose name remains unknown to this day, used them to do justice with architectural means to the pride and craving for recognition of the new academic discipline and the grandeur of the heavens.