Zurich University of the Arts

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Zurich University of the Arts - ZHdK

Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ZHdK

Part of Zürcher Fachhochschule
Established 1878, 2007
Type Public University
President Thomas D. Meier
Admin. staff 1310 [1]
Students 2481[2]
Location Winterthur, Zurich, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland
Website zhdk.ch

Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK, German: Zürcher Hochschule der Künste) has an approximate 2,500 students,[3] which makes it the largest arts university in Switzerland.[4] The university was established in 2007, following the merger between Zurich’s School of Art and Design (HGKZ) and the School of Music, Drama, and Dance (HMT). ZHdK is one of four universities affiliated to Zürcher Fachhochschule.

ZHdK offers taught Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses and further education programmes in art, design, music, art education, theatre, film, dance, and transdisciplinary studies. It is also active in research, especially artistic research and design research.[5]

Affiliated to ZHdK are the Museum of Design, Zurich, the Theater der Künste (Theatre of the Arts), the Mehrspur Music Club, and the Media and Information Centre (MIZ).


Established on 1 August 2007, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) resulted from the merger between the School of Art and Design (HGKZ), which had arisen from the municipal School of Applied Arts (founded in 1878), and the School of Music, Drama, and Dance (HMT).[6] The founding president of the new arts university was Professor Hans-Peter Schwarz. Since November 2009, Professor Thomas D. Meier has been president of ZHdK.

The School of Art and Design (HGKZ) arose from the municipal School of Applied Arts (founded in 1878). It was located in a building constructed by architects Adolf Steger and Karl Egender, which today also houses the Museum of Design, Zurich.

The School of Music, Drama, and Dance (HMT) was the result of a merger in 1999 between Winterthur and Zurich conservatories of music, Zurich’s Jazz School, Zurich’s Theatre and Acting Academy, and the Swiss Professional Ballet School. ZHdK’s programme in Theatre Studies (affiliated to the Department of Performing Arts and Film) was originally established in 1937, in the context of the Schauspielhaus Zürich (the city’s principal theatre), and known as the Bühnenstudio Zürich. It was renamed Schauspiel-Akademie Zürich in the early 1970s.

Following the 2007 school merger, ZHdK occupies 35 sites, spread across the cities of Zurich (Ausstellungsstrasse, Florhof, Mediacampus, Gessnerallee) and Winterthur. In the autumn of 2014, ZHdK will be relocating to its new campus: the Toni Areal (under construction) in the city’s thriving western district (Zurich West). With the exception of its Gessnerallee annex, ZHdK will be leaving all other sites to unite the arts under one roof. The Museum of Design, Zurich and the Bellerive Museum will remain at their current locations.

Teaching and Research[edit]

ZHdK offers taught Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses, which have replaced the former diploma courses in the wake of the Bologna Process. Places on all degree courses are limited. The university also offers a foundation course in art and design and various further educating courses, leading either to a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) or a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS).

With research becoming more firmly established at universities of applied sciences, ZHdK has significantly intensified its research activities. Its seven research institutes and two centres of excellence focus on artistic research in particular. Research is also undertaken in the fields of design, art history, art education, and musicology.


ZHdK has five departments:

The Department of Music is the largest department at ZHdK. It provides instrumental and voice training in Classical, Jazz, and Popular Music, as well as programmes in conducting and composition. The department also includes the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST) and undertakes specialised research in music interpretation. The department has its own record label, ZHdK Records, through which first-class in-house productions are released. CDs are distributed by Phonag Records.

The Department of Performing Arts and Film offers taught degrees and professional training in theatre (acting, directing, dramaturgy, scenography, theatre education), film, and dance. The department also includes the Institute for Performing Arts and Film (IPF).

The Department of Art & Media offers various taught degrees in the fine arts, with specialisations available in the visual arts, media arts, photography, and theory. The department includes the Institute for Contemporary Art Research (IFCAR) and the Public City Centre of Excellence.

The Department of Cultural Analysis provides training for future drawing teachers, cultural journalists, exhibition-makers, and adult education specialists. The department also offers a Master of Arts in Transdisciplinary Studies and has several affiliated research institutes —Institute for Theory (ith), Institute for Art Education (IAE), and Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts (ICS). Among others, research focuses on transdisciplinarity.

The Department of Design offers degree courses in product design, industrial design, and visual communication. The department also includes the Institute for Design Research.[7]

Notable Alumni[edit]

ZHdK and its various precursor institutions (School of Applied Art/HGKZ; Music Conservatory; Theatre Academy) have brought forth a considerable number of acclaimed artists, designers, musicians, and actors:



Fine Arts[edit]



Notable Faculty[edit]

Many former graduates have returned to teach at ZHdK. Teaching faculty has included and includes a number of well-known people:

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 47°22′58″N 8°32′08″E / 47.38278°N 8.53556°E / 47.38278; 8.53556