The Abbey Church of Payerne was built in the eleventh century in the architectural style of Cluny and is the most important and largest example of a Romanesque church in Switzerland. Thanks to its affiliation with Cluny and the protection of the Burgundy royal family, Payerne experienced a significant boom. In 1536, however, the monks were driven away during the Reformation. The abbey church was deconsecrated and used at different times as a granary, a gymnasium, and a prison. At the end of the nineteenth century, the building was finally put under protection because of its exceptional cultural value. Between 1920 and 1963 careful restoration and archaeological research were carried out, the latter revealing remains of a Roman settlement underneath the church. Since 1963 the abbey church has been open again for religious services.
An unstable foundation and dampness have been threatening the church for a long time, which is why the church and the museum are temporarily closed. The first stage of the restoration saved the church from collapsing. The second stage involves the restoration of the façade and the interior, in particular the damaged paintings and the plasterwork. After reopening in the spring of 2019, guided tours, exhibitions, concerts, and other cultural events will take place there on a regular basis.
The Foundation Board supports the restoration work with a top-priority project grant of CHF 50,000.