Why is an object, an artwork, or a person deemed “exotic”? How does one’s gaze get directed onto things or people seemingly belonging to other regions or cultures? These questions are examined here in relation to a specific context: the Enlightenment era from the Swiss perspective. This publication brings together research by academics and museum specialists for the first time in order to rethink this time period and geography. It contains essays and shorter texts centered on pictures, objects, books, and natural specimens from Swiss museum collections. “Exotic” in this context refers to things that come from elsewhere and that can be used and “improved” for the benefit of European powers. The term invites us to reconsider both the long eighteenth century and the international history of Switzerland.