Hoosesagg Museum, which translates into "Pant Pocket Museum" in English, is perhaps the smallest museum in Switzerland - indeed in the world too. There's no admission fee, but there's also no admission at all because the entire museum is contained within a two-feet-by-two-feet window covered with an iron grill in the door of a 600-year-old house, located in a narrow pedestrian alley in Basel's Old Town.
Every few months, new items appear in the window at 31 Imbergasslein (Ginger Alley). The Vergeat family has been living in this house for 35 years and have run the museum for 24 years. Dagmar, the lady of the house, handles the administrative part of the museum and her husband Matthias takes care of the creative part.
Dagmar has been fond of collecting things since her childhood and this is reflected in a room just behind the museum - objects hang from the ceiling and are arranged in display cases; wrist watches surround bottle stoppers with carved faces; there are tea eggs, a spectrum of plastic sunglasses, Rubik's cubes, toy televisions, bells and Dagmar's most favourite collection of kings.
This room was occupied by the Vergeats' eldest daughter till she got married and moved out in 1995. That was a time when passers-by often stopped to gaze at a fresco of Saint Christoffel (Christopher) carrying Jesus on his shoulder - the only such in Basel - which annoyed Dagmar considerably but also laid the seed of the museum.
"My husband and I moved into this house in 1986. This is a rented house from the government and has historical value: Basel's first midwife lived in number 31. Architects also stopped outside to study the structure's painted facade. My house was unique in architecture and thus was the centre of attraction for people," Dagmar said.
"The first display was schnapps glasses," she says. "We left (them) for three, four, five months, and then thought, ‘It's boring, always having the same thing'. We decided that we will change the collection four or five times a year. In between, we have our own display of collections at the time of Christmas."
Since most items displayed could fit in a pocket, they named the display the Pant Pocket Museum.
Beyond curating the tiny window, Dagmar works a part-time office job, spends time with her grandchildren, gardens and skies, and during the Basel Carnival, runs a bistro behind the house. She also hosts cocktail hours and the occasional dinner for up to eight people in the room behind the Pocket Museum door.
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