Dance your way into a host of museums under a silvery moon, starry sky, or dark blanket of night fog (depending on the autumn weather Vienna throws at you) in this annual evening of museum festivities.
- One ticket typically gets you into over 100 museums in Vienna
- Many locations offer something extra for the evening
- Museums stay open late (typically until 1am)
- 2022 date: Oct 1
- See also:
What’s it all about?
The ORF Long Night of Museums (German: ORF Lange Nacht der Museen) is
when all the exhibits come alive and (sorry, obvious joke). No, it’s one day of the year when a huge number of museums and similar institutions open late and a single ticket gets you into any of them.
This is more than just a cheap and cheerful way to see a few museums.
First, just about every museum you’ve heard of (and many you haven’t) participates, so the choice is huge.
Second, the museums tend to put on special tours or events just for the occasion.
Third, thousands of people create a lovely atmosphere as they mill about the streets late at night, soaking up science, art, culture, history, and anything else you might find in a display cabinet.
One year, for example, the Albertina displayed Albrecht Dürer’s famous Young Hare watercolour for the evening (it otherwise only appears every few years or so). The queue was huge, but nobody was impatient. And a sponsor fed us snacks while we waited. The finest art and chocolate – what more do you need?
The whole thing is a nationwide event organised by ORF, which is Austria’s state media company (similar to the UK’s BBC).
Obviously, most of the special tours and events are in German, but not all. In 2021, for example, the Kunsthistorisches Museum and National Library explicitly offered English-language tours as part of their contribution to the event.
The event has always been on the first Saturday of October. So the 2022 “night” takes place on October 1st. Times are from 6pm to 1am the following day.
The ORF kindly posts a website which has all the details of participating museums and related activities. The same site also has a free booklet you can download (or get with your ticket) to help plan your evening. All this info has been provided in English, too, in most years (or use Google translate).
My schedule one year, for example, included a talk on Viennese coffee culture at the coffee museum, the treasury at the Deutschordenshaus, the Hieronymus Bosch exhibition, a crash course in Esperanto at the National Library, and lifting a bar of gold at the Museum of Money at the National Bank.
At the 2021 event, we enjoyed an evening tour of the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein: the Baroque town house of the Princes of Liechtenstein, which the current prince restored completely a few years ago for around €100 million.
Ticket & visitor tips
One ticket is all you need. Last time out, this cost €15 with concessions available and under 12s going free:
- The ticket is valid for the hours of the event
- You can use the ticket as a travel pass for Vienna during these hours and special shuttle buses also operate
- Tickets are easy to get hold of:
- Purchase one from the information point on Maria-Theresien-Platz (between the natural history and art history museums)
- …or simply buy one from any participating museum on the day (or in the days leading up to the event)
It’s “only” seven or so hours: use the ORF site or the booklet to plan your schedule carefully. With tens of thousands participating, queues can develop for the more popular locations.
My tip: use the early evening to explore some of the less well-known museums and leave the heavyweights until late, when crowds have begun to thin.