If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Ferrari, Hublot, Kona Nigari Water. Rich people love to show off their wealth – and this is equally true of the wealthy people of the past.

Andrej Abplanalp

Andrej Abplanalp

Historian and communications chief of the Swiss National Museum.

In the 16th century, Johannes Waser rose to the top of the military and political hierarchy in Switzerland. Through his wife, Margareta Zelger, a substantial building in Stans known as the Rosenburg came into his possession. Having become a person of consequence, Waser converted the Rosenburg into a representative palais. He paid special attention to the accoutrements of his renaissance-style reception chamber, in which only the costliest materials were used for the wall panelling, the coffered ceiling, the sideboard, the tiled stove, and the floor tiling. The chamber sent a clear message to his visitors: Look at me, I’m a person of consequence!

In 1897, the architect Gustav Gull installed the chamber from the canton of Nidwalden in the newly created National Museum Zurich.There, Waser’s reception chamber became a crowd-puller.

Renaissance chamber, 1602, reception chamber from the Rosenburg in Stans. Photo: Swiss National Museum

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