Disused as a concert hall – the Tonhalle Maag in Zurich surprisingly becomes a museum – News


Animated art shows are to be shown in the Tonhalle Maag, internationally renowned for its acoustics.

  • Despite an intensive search, no new operator could be found for the high-end concert hall on the Maag site in the city of Zurich.
  • The internationally acclaimed concert hall is to be turned into a light museum, a museum for “immersive art”.
  • The wooden box construction as such is retained. Only the side balconies and the choir balcony are removed.

What is immersive art?

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Immersion describes immersion in a virtual world. In an exhibition, for example, the visitor should be able to sink completely into the artificial environment thanks to video projections, light and acoustic effects and experience it as real. With “Van Gogh Alive” a multimedia, immersive exhibition was shown in the Maag Music Haal in March 2020. (See video in the article) Despite restrictions due to the corona virus, the project was a great success.

The renowned Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra will have been in “exile” for almost three and a half years. From autumn 2017 to summer 2021, namely, in the Tonhalle Maag in Zurich’s industrial district, district five. The move within the city became necessary because his actual concert hall, the Tonhalle am See, was being renovated.

A temporary solution was therefore built on the Maag site for ten million Swiss francs, an elaborately constructed wooden box in an existing hall. The building was soon recognized nationally and internationally for its sound quality. Voices were loud that the concert hall had to be preserved, even after the Tonhalle orchestra left.

The city of Zurich would have liked to have seen this too and had a study carried out that said that under certain circumstances two large concert halls in the city could be operated profitably. It also held out the prospect of a partial deficit guarantee.

Despite all-round efforts, the plans to keep the box as a concert location have now been dashed. So now a light museum is to be built. Reality caught up with you, says Peter Haerle, Head of Culture for the City of Zurich: “The tenant, Maag Music & Arts AG, had to find a concept that would pay off for them because they are not subsidized. And this concept works for them. “

Now that’s just the reality that nobody wants to take that risk.

Of course it would have been nice if the hall could still have been used mainly as a music venue, but no sponsor could have been found to take over that. The city has done everything right, thinks the head of culture, the interested parties knew. “One thing is to praise the hall for its acoustics, and another to operate the hall for many years.” Nobody wanted to take this risk. After all, according to Haerle, the hall will be retained as a place of culture in the quarter.

Digital art, a global trend

Of course it also hurts them a little that the wooden box cannot be received as a whole, says Darko Soolfrank from Maag Music & Arts AG. But thinks: “The efforts were there, nobody could be found, then the need for two large concert halls may not be quite there.”

Instead of classical concerts, the hall will now be used for multimedia art shows from September 2021. In terms of immersive museums, there is an incredible amount going on around the world, from Paris to Sydney. Darko Soolfrank is convinced: “Zurich, as a very cultural city, needs something like this.”

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