Think of Bambi and you think of fluffy animals and kids. You probably don’t think of Klimt, Vienna Modernism, literary cafés, and Nazi oppression. The connection between the two is Felix Salten, the subject of the Beyond Bambi exhibition.
- The Wien Museum MUSA and the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus house the exhibition jointly
- Features a wide range of exhibits highlighting the wider life experience and broader cultural impact of Salten
- Runs Oct 15, 2020 – Sept 19, 2021
- See also: MUSA visitor and tickets info
Felix Salten and Viennese Modernism
(Group photo with Marlene Dietrich, USA, 1930. Photo © Wienbibliothek im Rathaus)
Everyone knows Bambi, thanks to the 1942 animated Disney film. “I’m thumpin’! That’s why they call me Thumper!”
What you might not be familiar with (or at least I wasn’t) is the book the film is based on. Felix Salten (1869 – 1945) published Bambi, a Life in the Woods in 1922.
Now you might imagine Salten to be a wizened old man in New York who wrote fondly of childhood memories in Oregon while making wooden toys for his grandchildren.
Not even close.
Salten was a long-time resident of Vienna and this new exhibition introduces us to his wider life and work outside authorship of a much-loved coming-of-age novel.
After all, Salten lived through some of the more momentous historical periods of modern history: the demise of the Habsburg monarchy, fascist rule, and two world wars. He also suffered the fate of many other great Jewish minds of the time: fleeing Austria (in 1939) to escape Nazi persecution.
Equally, Salten played an active and influential role in various cultural movements far removed from run-of-the-mill fodder for Hollywood. For example, he wrote for numerous newspapers and magazines, formed part of the Jung-Wien network (a group of writers who would meet in coffee houses and included such luminaries as Arthur Schnitzler), and even rubbed shoulders with the likes of Gustav Klimt as an art critic (Klimt’s 1898 Pallas Athene work also features in the exhibition).
As such, art historians regard Salten as an influential voice in the evolution of Viennese Modernism.
The Wien Museum MUSA hosts the main part of the exhibition, with another part in the small exhibition space of the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus (the city library in the town hall).
The exhibition per se draws considerably on the Wienbibliothek’s Felix Staten collection to illustrate the different facettes of his life, career, and influence. The collection includes numerous items from his estate (photos, letters, manuscripts, other documents, and hundreds of books, for example).
Dates and tickets
Discover Salten’s legacy between October 15th, 2020 and September 19th, 2021.
At the time of writing, a standard adult ticket for the Wien Museum MUSA (which is mostly the exhibition) costs €7. The Wienbibliothek is a public library, so does not charge an entrance fee.
How to get to the exhibition
See the bottom of the main MUSA article for travel tips. The museum lives opposite the Rathaus, which sits on the Ring boulevard among various other prestigious buildings of the late 19th century. Once inside, go straight through and left for the ticket counter and exhibition space.
Access the Wienbibliothek in the Rathaus via an entrance on the same road. You’re looking for Stiege 6 and Floor 1 inside.
Address: Felderstraße 6-8, 1010 Vienna