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Who wears the trousers? Schwingen – the Swiss wrestling tradition

The strongest shorts in Switzerland?! Compared to other types of wrestling around the world, the answer to this is Swiss wrestling shorts! They are the principal feature and symbol of Swiss wrestling. The new special exhibition «Who wears the trousers? Schwingen – the Swiss wrestling tradition» opens its doors 16th April 2023.

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«Die Hose der Bösen: Schwingen – eine lebendige Tradition.» Sonderausstellung im Freilichtmuseum Ballenberg. Ab 16. April 2023.

In 2019, the Swiss Open-Air Museum was gifted the estate of Karl Meli and Irene Bodenmann-Meli by the former Wrestling Museum in Winterthur. This large collection of trophies and other memorabilia from the long careers of the two-time Swiss wrestling king, Meli, his wreath-winning daughter and other former Swiss wrestlers is the inspiration behind a special Swiss wrestling exhibition for the 2023 and 2024 season.

Grabbing the back of your opponent’s shorts is what Swiss wrestling is all about. How much can these shorts withstand? Why don’t they rip when they’re yanked upwards? And who are the people involved prior to the shorts being donned at a Swiss wrestling competition?

The shorts and a number of different items from the extensive collection will be used to recount stories of Swiss wrestling, past and present. The shorts create links to historical everyday life in Switzerland, as well as to a wide range of crafts: from jute and leather to sawdust and the prizes on offer, from the craftspeople involved with the trophies, music, festivals and familiar traditions, to various voices from today’s Swiss wrestling scene and international comparisons.

An exhibition for both Swiss wrestling enthusiasts and newcomers who are curious about the cultural significance and traditional roots of Swiss wrestling.

In 2023, this special exhibition will be a key element of an active, animated supporting programme featuring various Swiss sports and games.


Swiss Open-Air Museum

Museumsstrasse 100

CH-3858 Hofstetten bei Brienz

Opening hours

6 April to 29 October 2023
10 am to 5 pm daily

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