Numerous important wooden works of art from Brienz are privately owned throughout Switzerland. Many of their current owners still have extensive knowledge about the origin of these treasures and about the history of woodcarving. However, the changing generations and circumstances of time threaten these, often artistically significant, works as well as the knowledge associated with them. Enquiries to the Woodcarving School Brienz and to local companies in this sector show that many of these works are losing their significance and that there is a demand for their continued use. Fears that these cultural assets could even be forgotten are therefore not unfounded. With them, a chapter in the history of woodcarving in Brienz is always lost. Against this background, individuals from the cultural, political and economic circles of the Brienz region gave the impetus to establish the Foundation for the Collection and Exhibition of Woodcarvings Brienz in 1990.
Since the establishment of the “Foundation for the Collection and Exhibition of Woodcarvings” in 1990, a location for a museum was sought. This undertaking turned out to be not quite so easy. In 2004, the Foundation carried out an internal review with the aim of intensifying the activities of the Woodcarving Foundation. The establishment of a museum for woodcarvings became a high priority. According to the motto “only perseverance brings success”, the search for a museum location began and at the same time the question of financing was examined. Various options were considered – including a new building on the Pfrundmatte, in the immediate vicinity of the Woodcarving School in Brienz or in the school itself. Various locations in the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum were also considered. The investigations were unsuccessful. However, the development of the museum idea had lost none of its dynamism. On the contrary, it was met with much sympathy and goodwill. The managing committee dismissed all the possibilities that had been examined so far and looked for another location. As an alternative, the premises of the “Burger Gallery” in Brienz were open for temporary exhibitions.
In the spring of 2008, Flavius Jobin, CEO of the company Jobin Inc., made the management committee an offer of cooperation in the museum sector. He offered the Foundation his museum premises and his collection for further exhibition purposes. This offer triggered various discussions. One welcomed a collaboration, but not a merger with the existing Jobin Inc. museum. However, the opportunity to house the Foundation’s museum in the centre of Brienz and in a listed building convinced the management committee. The offer was accepted and a meaningful yet differentiated collaboration was sought. Following the model of the “Public Private Partnership (PPP)”, a means of mobilising private capital and expertise to fulfil public tasks, Jobin Inc. and the Foundation combined their strengths and expertise and founded the Swiss Woodcarving Museum. A comprehensive contract between the two partners still regulates the clear separation between the art historical goals of the Foundation and the operational management by Jobin Inc.
Foundation for the Collection and Exhibition of Woodcarvings Brienz
c/o Woodcarving School Brienz
Schleegasse 1, Postfach 592, 3855 Brienz
Phone +41 33 952 17 51
Anton Reisacher, President