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 new special exhibition "Who wears the trousers – the Swiss wrestling tradition?" is all about the strongest shorts in Switzerland. The special exhibition is open daily and included in the admission price.
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 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.
"Who wears the trousers? Schwingen – the Swiss wrestling tradition": An exhibition for both Swiss wrestling enthusiasts and newcomers who are curious about the cultural significance and traditional roots of Swiss wrestling.
The exhibition does not focus on individual Swiss wrestlers, but on the principal feature and symbol of Swiss wrestling: the shorts.
The largest Swiss wrestling shorts in the world span the threshing floor of the farmhouse from Ostermundigen. Measuring around 1.80 to 2.70 metres, several queens and kings could fit into these giant shorts at once.
The material was provided by SwissFlax GmbH from Willadingen (BE). This unique exhibit was made by one of the saddlers from the Ballenberg saddlery association, who also demonstrate their traditional craft at the Swiss Open-Air Museum on selected dates.
Swiss wrestling fans can relax in the "Swiss wrestling museum lounge", browse the reproduced editions of old Swiss wrestling magazines, admire the numerous trophies and flick through the photo albums.
Learn more about the crafts, which are used to fabric the classic Swiss wrestling shorts.
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.
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, Mirjam Koring & team
Design and production management
Partners, supporters and lenders
Pädagogische Hochschule Luzern, Institut Geschichtsdidaktik und Erinnerungskulturen
Swiss Sports History, Universität Luzern, Historisches Seminar
Memoriav, Kompetenzstelle für das audiovisuelle Erbe der Schweiz
SwissFlax GmbH, Karlen Sattlerei- und Handels GmbH
Sattlerei Fritz Jakob Innendekorationen, Sattlerei Lanz-Anliker AG
Archiv EFSV, Schwingklub Interlaken, Schwingklub Brienz
Karl Meli jun., Dora Hari, Ursula Tschabold-Grossen
The special exhibition is supported by
Susann Häusler Stiftung
Ballenberg – Swiss Open-Air Museum is supported by
Federal Office of Culture
Canton of Bern