Switzerland has a rich ceramic tradition, which mirrors the country’s complexity and cultural variety. There is not much public awareness of this, however, and from the point of view of ceramic output, Switzerland is generally seen as a peripheral region from a European perspective. People might know that there were two porcelain manufacturers in the 18th century, one in Zurich, the other in Nyon. They might also be aware of the fact that various factories produced painted faience wares, that the Bern region was famous mainly for its earthenware and the city of Winterthur gained a reputation in the 17th century for its faience production. But what else is known? And what did the vessels actually look like?

While it is easy, from the collections of the Swiss museums, to gain an impression of the wealth of artefacts made of fired clay that were produced in Switzerland or brought into the country from elsewhere, the heritage, though of national and international importance, is largely unknown, not only to the general public but also to ceramic specialists. Most of the objects are not on display nor have they ever been published. Since 1954, the CERAMICA Foundation has been dedicated to the promotion of art-historical research in the field of ceramic production. The publishing project “CERAMICA CH”, launched in 2009, aims to shine a light on these hidden treasures and to compile a national inventory of all publicly accessible collections of modern-era pottery (1500–1950). All institutions that hold and maintain such collections will be included.

From 2009 to 2018, the foundation was very lucky to have on board an exceedingly competent specialist in the form of historian Roland Blaettler, former director of the Musée Ariana, the Swiss Pottery Museum in Geneva. It was thanks to his endeavours that we were able to inventory the objects from cantons Neuchâtel, Solothurn and Vaud and to publish them in 2013, 2014 and 2017, with support in terms of content from the late Rudolph Schnyder and Peter Ducret.

In April 2018, the post-medieval archaeologist and pottery specialist Andreas Heege took over the project and started to build a freely accessible online image database. Designed to cover all of Switzerland it will be of national and international interest. We hope that the museums, regions and cantons that benefit from the inventory compiled by the CERAMICA Foundation will realise over time that the results of the CERAMICA CH project will help to preserve this extraordinary body of cultural heritage and the information associated with it that is in danger of being lost.

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the staff of all the museums involved for their support by providing information and/or images. We would also like to thank the various sponsors for their financial contributions to the parts of the project that have been published in print; they are mentioned in the publications concerned. The digital version is based on the imdas pro package and the culture.Catalog web application developed by the research group Connected Computing of the DIGITAL Institute at JOANNEUM RESEARCH (research association with limited liability) in Graz, which they kindly modified to suit the purposes of CERAMICA CH. The foundation would like to express their gratitude to all those involved in the project.

Dr. Thomas Staehelin
President of the CERAMICA Foundation