Credit Suisse’s Decline Leaves the Future of Its Museum Sponsorships in Limbo

Credit Suisse was a prominent supporter of art institutions and had amassed a 10,000 art collection of its own.

Silhouette woman sits on a bench in museum and a painting hangs on a dark blue wall behind her.
A Credit Suisse-sponsored exhibition at London’s National Gallery in 2022. Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Credit Suisse’s sponsorships of prominent museums across the world is now in limbo after the Swiss bank was rapidly acquired by its rival UBS earlier this month.

On March 19, UBS announced it had agreed to purchase Credit Suisse for more than $3 billion after the Swiss National Bank, Federal Department of Finance and Financial Market Supervisory Authority urged the merger forward in order to halt market instability.

The acquisition was “an emergency rescue” for Credit Suisse, said Colm Kelleher, UBS chairman, in a statement.

Following the demise of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, fears about Credit Suisse’s stability quickly spread, with the bank reportedly facing as much as $10 billion in daily customer outflows shortly before its acquisition.

Historically, Credit Suisse is a prominent backer of the arts, owning a 10,000-piece corporate art collection established in 1975 and focused on works from young and emerging artists.

The bank has also been a funder for six Swiss art institutions, including Kunstmuseum Bern, the nation’s oldest museum, where it has been a sponsor since 1996. Credit Suisse additionally has partnered with London’s National Gallery since 2008 and has previously been a corporate sponsor at Ireland’s Wexford Festival Opera, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim museum.

It is unclear what will happen to Credit Suisse’s relationships with art institutions, according to UBS, which declined to comment on whether it will be taking over the bank’s art collection or partnerships. “The integration will take time and it is too early to make any conclusions at this point in time,” said Nadine Merturi, a UBS spokesperson, in an emailed statement.

Will UBS take over Credit Suisse’s partners?

Credit Suisse declined to comment on the matter.

Aargauer Kunsthaus, a Swiss museum located in Aarau which has been sponsored by Credit Suisse since 1995, said the loss of the bank’s funding “would be drastic,” in an emailed statement to the Observer.

A long-time partner with the museum, Credit Suisse annually supports an exhibition at Aargauer Kunsthaus and up until 2022 awarded a sponsorship prize to a local artist each year.

“Credit Suisse’s contribution is very important for financing this exhibition,” said the museum. However, Aargauer Kunsthaus added that it pursues donations from other funders and that the annual exhibition will likely be able to continue without the bank’s support.

The museum said it has contacted Credit Suisse and confirmed that the bank’s partnership will continue for 2023 and 2024, as previously agreed upon, but could not provide further details on the partnership’s future.

“We at the Aargauer Kunsthaus look back on a long-standing banking partnership and will continue to work with banks as sponsors,” said the museum.

Other art institutions partnered with Credit Suisse could not be reached for comment.

UBS has its own art collection which it claims is “one of the most significant corporate collections worldwide,” totalling more than 30,000 works. Some of this artwork is displayed at its UBS Gallery in Manhattan, which was launched in 2019. UBS is also a sponsor of the Art Basel art fair and has previously loaned works to museums such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Credit Suisse’s Decline Leaves the Future of Its Museum Sponsorships in Limbo