Vienna has just announced its latest new museum as the ‘Wien Museum’ opens.
Dedicated to the city, its people and history. Plus it is ‘free’! Following the British model of not charging was a political decision by its left leaning politicians who had allocated around €108m on the project.
Redesign of the building was done by an Austrian architectural team, Certov, Winkler + Ruck. They won the contract in anonymous architectural competition held back in 2015.
Charging for museum entrance in the country is really quite the norm in Austria. “We want Wien Museum to become a meeting place, a living room for everyone,” says its director Matti Bunzl.
He raised the idea of free entry when he apply for the job. Stating that Britain has successfully run this policy model across its national museums for many years. Which was then approved in Vienna for this project.
Starting Point In Vienna The Wien Museum
With around 10 years of planning the new edifice has replaced a 1950’s brutalist construction. Not that popular in the past with visitors or locals alike.
Although, its form is still in that concrete box like style. But yet it sits well alongside the Baroque Karlskirke next door along one side of Karlsplatz just on the edge of the city centre.
Once inside the welcoming light cascades in from the atrium and the glass extension.
Immediately it’s obvious that this interior space has been utilised well in order to present the thousands of items to the public in a creative way.
Displaying Thousands of Objects
A former mayoral carriage and a huge metal whale from the Prater amusement park hanging from the ceiling several floors above. Which is an indication of what was to come.
With the floor area being doubled from previous structure and some appear to float above you. So it provides a glimpse of what is to come with those extra exhibition floors above.
Those additional floors also provide space for an extensive sheltered viewing terrace, a cafe and meeting rooms. Offering a different panorama over the city too.
Starting with the geology, then Bronze Age and Roman settlements as you progress to the medieval walled city. A period when Vienna’s Imperial time as the capital of the Hapsburg Empire transitions into the two world wars World Wars. Then finally to the present just after the fall of the Iron curtain and to now.
Troublesome times of the Nazi era is certainly covered in some detail under the title of “Laboratory of Cruelty”. I understand that this time was not covered in the former museum.
Telling It As It Was As The Wien Museum Opens
That period of Anschluss to post war are recorded now. With some items depicting Nazi and their symbols now not missing from the city’s time line.
The fact that the former Jewish community was around 10% of the pre-war population of the city. All were very much part of cultural, intellectual and commercial life of pre war Vienna.
Wandering through the various exhibition floors and rooms there is hardly an area of life from rich or poor that are not covered. Automated doors allow you to progress through from one area to another.
Its famous artists, musicians and personalities are there and recorded aplenty.
Impossible not to mention the Strausses, Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge who modelled for him with her portrait on display. Plus work by Egon Schiele of course .
There are many chances for interacting with some of the items on display like a section of chain mail or knight’s protective glove to assess their weight or protection capabilities.
Some items are very large and out of reach. The former Sudbahnhof station name is fixed high above one of the staircases.
Keeping It Large And Small As The Wien Museum Opens
A miniature model of an engineering drilling machine is at the other end of a scale just a few inches long showing the manufacturing legacy of the city.
The secret society of Freemasons are included in the museum. Also those at the power end of the spectrum. A slave with the name Mmadi Maki from Chad did make that transition from poor to rich. Being accepted into the Freemasons having once been sold as a slave.
Representation of the poor was called ‘Pictures of Poverty’ and a collection of Beidermeir style paintings still does seem to show the better side of such situations.
After the Vienna was occupied by the British, Americans, French and Russian in 1945 was the period when the film ‘The Third Man’ was made.
This black market themed film made after the war has grown to be an iconic classic black and white masterpiece. As it traces Harry Lime (Orson Welles) being chased around and under the city. Still to be found in the city are many of the locations used by the film makers.
Even after this period the United Nations did build a series of major offices in the city and that was a period of spies and diplomats. Still a centre for diplomats as touring the city you will find many from the major players to
However, now it’s tourists that head to this capital city in droves for its art, culture and music.
Placing the Wien Museum in top spot as a really perfect start to any Vienna visit.