The management of its border has always been a traditional part of life for the small, independent Alpine republic of Switzerland. The Customs Museum recalls this past, but at the same time it shows the challenges facing Swiss Customs today in the context of global trade and a Europe of open borders.
The museum devotes special exhibitions to topical issues on a regular basis, often in co-operation with other institutions. Memorable, self-explanatory installations and numerous short films in several languages introduce the visitor to the topics in a vivid manner. The museum is open every afternoon from mid-April to mid-October. CHF 3.-/1.50, Free entrance until 6 years
The old Customs house in Cantine di Gandria had been standing empty for several years when in 1935 Angelo Gianola, a Ticino border officer, had the idea of setting up a museum at this exclusive site. He asked his colleagues to collect everyday objects connected with the Border Guard. Smuggled goods, imaginative hiding places and means of transport ranked among the museum's main attractions in the first few decades after its opening in 1949. For that reason it is still known today as the "Smugglers' Museum".
In 1970 the concept was revised and the building was modified. Since reopening in 1978, the museum is constantly updated, with special exhibitions spotlighting specific themes.