The Jewish Museum of Switzerland was opened in 1966 as the first Jewish Museum in the German-speaking world after the Second World War.
The initiative came from members of Espérance (a chevra kadisha; funeral society) who visited Cologne to see the exhibition «Monumenta Judaica» in 1963/64. They discovered that many of the ritual objects on display came from the Basel Judaica collection and decided to present these objects permanently in a Jewish museum in Basel.
When it first opened, the museum occupied two rooms at Kornhausgasse 8. The interior designer Christoph Bernoulli furnished the space.
The founding director, Dr. Katia Guth-Dreyfus, headed the museum for four decades. In 2010 she was succeeded by Dr. Gaby Knoch-Mund. In 2015, Dr. Naomi Lubrich took over as director of the Jewish Museum of Switzerland.