Interview with Sandra Beretta, director of the HR Giger Museum, Château St-Germain, Gruyères – Switzerland

Hans Ruedi Giger, more simply known as HR Giger was a painter, designer, sculptor, illustrator but above all, for the general cinephile public, the creator of the alien creature of the Xenomorph, protagonist of ‘Alien’, a film directed in 1979 by Ridley Scott, a creation that earned him the Oscar for special effects in 1980. Victory that earned him the right to enter history, with a capital letter, of cinematographic and drawn science fiction. This lightning-fast introduction to tell you that for years I had been hearing about the museum and the bar, with a design that recalled his cinematic creations, from HR Giger created in Switzerland. At a certain point I made up my mind and wanted to find out more by contacting Sandra Beretta, the director of the HR Giger Museum, which is located in the Château St-Germain, in the municipality of Gruyères, in the Canton of Fribourg, in Switzerland.
Sandra Beretta told me about the past, the present and above all the future, the birthday of the museum and the bar this Saturday, featuring HR Giger and his amazing world.

Here you can find the Italian Translation

When was the HR Giger Museum founded and why?

The most frequently asked question is: how and why was the HR Giger Museum created in Gruyères?
As a child, Hansruedi drew trains and castles. As an adult, he built three ghost trains and wanted to own a castle for his museum.
For his 50th birthday, Hansruedi organized a temporary exhibition in the upper castle of Gruyères. It was a success.

7 years later in 1997, the artist had the opportunity to buy the lower castle, which is called the Château St-Germain.HR Giger loved the place!
He then inaugurated his museum in June 1998.
In 2003, the HR Giger Bar opened, a unique masterpiece entirely designed by Hansruedi himself.

Where is it?

Museum HR Giger, Château St-Germain, Rue du Château 2, 1663 Gruyères.

How is the museum structured?

It is a castle with 3 floors and a ground:
• Museum HR Giger
• HR Giger Gallery
• HR Giger Bar

Does the Museum only present works by HR Giger or do you do temporary exhibitions by other artists?

HR Giger collected some works of his favorite artists, the museum presents a selection to the public on the third floor of his museum, with artworks from Ernst Fuchs, Dado, Coleman, Armand, Wegmüller, Sandoz, etc.

Are there any interesting stories about the HR Giger Museum?

There are many stories. He wanted to make a train with tracks inside the Museum.
He made a plan of the castle. But the floor is protected by UNESCO and he couldn’t do it.

What is the best way to experience the H. R. Giger Museum?

To book a guide in order to visit the museum & the Giger Bar and his tomb next to the Museum.

Is the Museum open to external collaborations?

Do you mean, other exhibitions? Yes, we have a list from all the external exhibitions. For example, an exhibition is now underway at the Castle Riding Hall, in the castle Hluboká nad Vltavou in Prague, Czech Republic: ‘HR Giger Metamorphoses‘.

Is the Museum on social media?

Website HR Giger Museum
Instagram HR Giger Museum
Facebook HR Giger Museum

How is the Museum received by the national public? And internationally?

HR Giger was one of the most famous references in the world regarding fantastic realism. This provocative genius leaves few people indifferent: isn’t Art’s purpose to generate emotions?
Alien is a character created by HR Giger like all his other biomechanical creatures. Also, the movie sets were entirely designed by him; and he got an Oscar in Hollywood in 1980 for this work. The artist created several other characters and settings for movies, like ‘Species’, ‘Dune’, ‘Poltergeist II’.
HR Giger is very popular. We have so many visitors from all over the world who come to visit our museum.
HR Giger died in May 2014 and rests in the cemetery of Gruyères, next to the museum. On May 2014, I was working for SRF news. HR Giger got on SRF’s (national Radio and Television) twitter so many tweets: millions from China, America, Japan etc. Never ever other Swissartist was as successful as him!!!

Do you have any possible developments in mind? For example, a book or a documentary telling its story through interviews and videos?

We did a documentary called ‘Darkstar’. And we are also making a documentary (it is still a work in progress).
I’ve also worked on different HR Giger art books. We have so many books, just browse the site.
Here is the link to an interview made by the Le Paratonner site with HR Giger to learn more:

Any future projects?

Of course, exhibitions in the gallery HR Giger (Till Nowak, François Burland, etc) and in other places, national and international exhibitions (look at the list).

On the 25th anniversary Celebration HR Giger (24.6.2023) we also have:
• a new book about the HR Giger-Bar,
• a DVD from Fredi M. Murer,
• a 25th anniversary Beer.
• And maybe a 25th anniversary Absinthe.

Link: Website HR Giger Museum
Link: Instagram HR Giger Museum
Link: Facebook HR Giger Museum