Vienna’s biggest museum can’t let Beethoven year pass without a suitable nod to the musical genius and cultural icon. Hence the ambitious Beethoven Bewegt exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
- Uses an eclectic mix of historical and contemporary art to illustrate Beethoven’s enduring influence and build connections to his music and persona
- Runs Mar 25 – Jul 5
- Just needs a normal museum ticket to view
- See also: Kunsthistorisches Museum tickets and visitor info | Beethoven 2020 events
(John Baldessari; Beethoven’s Trumpet (with Ear) Opus # 133, 2007; Photo Timo Ohler © John Baldessari; Courtesy of the artist, Sprüth Magers and Beyer Projects)
Beethoven isn’t known for his series of oil paintings of scenes from Renaissance Italy (more’s the pity). So what’s he doing inside a major art history institution like the Kunsthistorisches Museum?
The answer lies on both sides of the equation.
First, Beethoven has long escaped the confines of his role as a mere creator of music. He is a story of triumph and tragedy, a personality, an icon, a brand, a humanist…a man who has influenced and inspired other creative talents and contemporary culture ever since his first notes escaped into the clamour of 18th-century Bonn.
Second, the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) is no mere repository of art. As Vienna’s most prestigious museum, it also carries a mandate to encourage reflection, discussion, and new perceptions.
Combine the two aspects and you get the Beethoven Bewegt (Beethoven Moves) exhibition. Concocted together with the Archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna and curated by Andreas Kugler, Jasper Sharp, Stefan Weppelmann and Andreas Zimmermann, it offers the KHM’s own particular hommage to the master.
The essence of the exhibition is to juxtapose displays and installations that create dialogues and connections between Beethoven (his music and personality) and various works of art drawn from different genres and media. So you can “see” and “experience” Beethoven as much as “listen” to him.
As well as drawing on Beethoven-related material, the exhibition presents, for example, paintings, sketchbooks, sculptures, and videos.
The eclectic mix of artists so featured includes historical figures like Turner, Cossiers, Goya, Rodin, and Caspar David Friedrich, as well as contemporary creators like Idris Khan, Jorinde Voigt or Anselm Kiefer. Expect visual or conceptual art from such as Rebecca Horn, John Baldessari or Guido van der Werve. There’s even a performative sculpture from Tino Sehgal.
The diversity of art and artists in itself seems to reflect the wide-ranging impact of one such as Ludwig van Beethoven.
Once I’ve taken a look round, I’ll add in more details and highlights.
Dates and tickets
The Beethoven exhibition runs from March 25th to July 5th. During the exhibition, the KHM opens Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm (9pm on Thursdays). From June, it opens on Mondays, too.
How to get to Beethoven Moves
See the end of the main KHM article for travel tips for the museum.
The exhibition occupies part of the picture gallery on the first floor. Even if you take the lift, be sure to take a peek at the staircase, which is an artistic and architectural masterpiece in its own right. And if you like music, the Kunsthistorisches Museum also has an excellent collection of historical instruments (over the road from the main building in the Neue Burg).
Address: Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna