open art museum

open art museum

Our mission

What is the open art museum?

The open art museum focuses on art from the margins.
The open art museum breaks down boundaries in art.
The open art museum surprises.
The open art museum inspires.
The open art museum questions existing thought patterns.
The open art museum unleashes emotions.
The open art museum invites visitors to engage in an open exchange.
The open art museum promotes diversity in art and in the art world.


Diversity at the open art museum means:

We show art from different contexts.
We don’t draw cultural or social boundaries.
We respect artists regardless of their identity, lifestyle, and disability.
We want to make unique aspects of their art visible.

Das Bild zeigt ein Gemälde. Links im Gemälde sieht man
Elisabeth "Die Vorstadtgräfin", "C'est le jour du carnaval", 1974, felt-tip pen and gouache on newspaper, 90 x 448cm, open art museum, St. Gallen, donation from a Swiss private collection.

Our Vision


The open art museum stands for the existential importance of artistic creation for people and society.
The open art museum brings people together through art.
At the open art museum, everyone feels respected and addressed, and they meet as equals.
The open art museum is an open space for art without borders, for an expressive world.

EinBlicke (Insight)

EinBlick (Insight): Art Brut, Outsider Art, Naive Art, Succinctly and Artfully Explained

With its focus on Art Brut, Outsider Art and Naive Art, the open art museum works with an art that is difficult to grasp. Ahmad Al Rayyan and Mirjam Kradolfer’s videos (2021) provide insights into this art and explain it succinctly and artfully.


Art Brut

Individual visionaries took an early interest in creating art beyond the academies and the art market. Around 1900, collections with works by patients were created at various psychiatric clinics (such as the Morgenthaler Collection in Waldau near Bern). This «art by the mentally ill» (Hans Prinzhorn, 1922) or later «condition-related art» (Leo Navratil, 1950s/1960s) was particularly popular in avant-garde circles. It also had a great influence on Jean Dubuffet (1901– 1985). In 1945 he coined the term art brut as an alternative to art cultural. Dubuffet understood this to mean culturally untouched, «unspoiled» figures outside of an artistic tradition with the power of a «rough diamond.»

Outsider Art

The term Outsider Art (in the sense of being outside the art world) comes from the British art historian Roger Cardinal (1940–2019). Although in 1972 it was actually meant as a translation of art brut, the term Outsider Art quickly gained currency. Contrary to Jean Dubuffet’s narrow definition, Cardinal had a broader and less ideological understanding of this art. The term Outsider Art is thus more applicable to contemporary art.

Naive Art

Like Art Brut and Outsider Art, the term Naive Art does not describe a style, but an inner attitude of self-taught artists to their environment. With important representatives such as the Swiss artist Adolf Dietrich (1877–1957) and Henri Rousseau (1844–1910) in France, Naive Art was celebrated in the early twentieth century by famous artists such as Picasso.

However, the terms Art Brut, Outsider Art, and Naive Art cannot be clearly distinguished from one another. They overlap in many areas, and individual artists can be categorized in multiple ways. It is in the very nature of this art form that the artists disregard conventions and do not categorize themselves and their art.

History of the museum

The open art museum is funded by the Stiftung für schweizerische Naive Kunst und Art Brut in St. Gallen.

At the beginning of 1988, the collectors Erna and Curt Burgauer, Mina and Josef John, and Simone and Peter Schaufelberger-Breguet founded the Stiftung für schweizerische Naive Kunst und Art Brut. The foundation presented itself to the public in March 1988 with an exhibition at the cantonal administrative building in St. Gallen. The foundation held some 200 works at the time.

The foundation found temporary exhibition spaces in the warehouse at Vadianstrasse 57 (now the police building). After some discussion, the board of trustees decided to name the new museum after its location: Museum im Lagerhaus. On 27 May 1988, the first exhibition at the Museum im Lagerhaus opened. In 1994 the museum moved to Davidstrasse 44, initially for a period of two years. The name Museum im Lagerhaus remained, because the new spaces were also in a warehouse. With the city’s decision in 2001 to renovate the building and use it for cultural and commercial purposes, the museum secured a long-term location.

For twenty years, Simone and Peter Schaufelberger-Breguet ran the museum on a voluntary basis as museum director and president of the foundation and built up an extensive collection. In 2008, the former city councilor Peter Schorer took over as chairman of the board, and Monika Jagfeld, art historian and cultural manager, became director of the museum. At the end of 2021, after 14 years in office, Peter Schorer handed over the chairmanship to the former mayor of St. Gallen, Thomas Scheitlin.

After a process of sharpening the museum’s identity, in January 2023 the name was changed to open art museum.

An einer Strasse befindet sich eine Häuserreihe aus hellem Backstein. Die Häuserzeile wird am Ende von einem kleinen rechteckigen Turm begrenzt. In der Mitte befindet sich der Museumseingang.