The Pilecki Institute, a Polish research institute, has acquired the property Hotel Schwanen in Rapperswil, Switzerland. In the future, the property will house rooms for research and education, as well as cultural activities, a hotel and a restaurant. It will also house the Polenmuseum Rapperswil, which has existed for more than 150 years.
The institution was founded in 1870 in Rapperswil Castle by Władysław Plater, a Polish noble who had fought in the 1830 Polish uprising against Russian rule, after which he fled into exile, continuing to support the Polish national cause from abroad.
But the museum has been under threat since 2008, amid a campaign by some in Rapperswil who have argued that it draws few visitors and is taking up valuable space in the historic 13th-century castle, which could be put to better use. In a 2013 referendum, locals voted to evict the museum. However, the following year Swiss broadcaster SRF reported that the museum would be allowed to remain.
Then, in 2020, the museum’s director, Anna Buchmann, said that the institution had again been informed it would have to move out of the castle.
Poland’s culture ministry announced that the government had stepped in to resolve the situation. So finally, Poland has purchased a separate property in Rapperswil, the former Hotel Schwanen, which will now house the Polish Museum.
“Many years of Polish-Swiss efforts have found a happy ending,” said culture minister Piotr Gliński, alongside Poland’s ambassador to Switzerland, Iwona Kozłowska, and Buchmann. Gliński noted that the museum’s new home is a very appropriate one, as in the 19th century the hotel was a meeting place for Poles living in Switzerland.
The team of Bratschi, which advised the Pilecki Institute in this transaction, consisted of Christian Wind (partner, corporate, pictured), Thomas Schönenberger (real estate, public building and planning law) and Michael Barrot (tax).