The Greek Tolkien Society, The Prancing Pony, wrote the following account of their visit to the Greisinger Museum, in Switzerland.
J.R.R.Tolkien visited Switzerland as a young student during his summer holidays and had a long and pleasant stay there. Hiking and trekking in the Alps, he discovered some of the most breathtaking European landscapes and was deeply impressed by them. Many years later they were transformed by his pen into some of the most memorable landmarks of his Middle-earth, like the Misty Mountains and Rivendell.
What better place to build a museum dedicated to his work? Tolkien aficionado Bernd Greisinger, dedicated years of research and large sums of money in collecting books, artefacts and works of art directly connected to the world of Middle-earth or which belonged to the author himself. Then, he built a real Hobbit hole near his home in Jenins, Switzerland, and in it he housed this unique collection. The Greisinger Museum opened its round green door to the public on October 2013 and members of Tolkien Societies around the world were invited to the celebration.
Unfortunately, the Greek Tolkien Society – The Prancing Pony – could not send a representative at the time. But the idea of visiting the museum never ceased to be a topic of discussion for its members. Finally, the longed for trip was made on November 2015. A group of 23 members of the Society travel from Athens to Zurich and on to the picturesque countryside of Heidiland. After settling in a nearby inn, we changed into our Middle-earth costumes and drove to the museum. Bernd Greisinger, our most knowledgeable host, usually guides his guests personally, but since we were numerous and only a few spoke German, he enlisted the help of the charming and very helpful Enza to guide the English speakers. The tour lasted well over four hours and to say it wasn’t enough is an understatement.
Starting from the round green door that leads from the garden to the hallway of the hobbit-hole, the visitor is slowly guided to Rivendell, passes through the Gate of Moria and the Argonath, greets Treebeard and ends up in Minas Tirith. In the specially constructed display shelves and hanging on the walls, there are wonders to be seen and enjoyed: hundreds of rare books in a multitude of languages, first editions and unique copies, hand written manuscripts and illustrated tomes, calendars and drawings, original pictures from famous artists, beautiful statues made especially for the decoration of the rooms, costumes, weapons and artefacts from the film production. Most importantly, there are many personal belongings of Professor Tolkien, like the small chandelier that hangs proudly in Bilbo’s well-appointed living room. There are so many things to admire, so many stories behind each exhibit, so many memories invoked, so much discussion over almost every item, so many photos to be taken, that time flies quickly. The last stop is at the small theatre, where a short documentary of how the Museum was built is shown. It is amazing to see how much personal work and love was invested in this endeavour.
I could write many pages describing the beautiful and unique items that awed and elated us, or the magnitude of the impact a visit to this collection has on a true Tolkien devotee, but I wouldn’t come even close to doing them justice. This is an experience every Tolkien admirer must have. Sitting around the fantastic great round table in the main hall, talking with our hosts, we were already thinking about coming back. Our visit was too short, as we had to leave on the following day, but it was very full and satisfying. Each and every one of us would really like to come to return and spend more time in this Middle-earth.