Bonvenon al Vieno, which means welcome to Vienna (I think) in Esperanto. The National Library here includes a world-beating specialist section for planned languages. No wonder, then, that the same institution is home to the Esperanto Museum.
- Quick multimedia introductions to the language, history, and philosophy of Esperanto (and other planned languages)
- Located in the 17th-century Palais Mollard
- All display info is in German and English (and Esperanto)
- Close to the famous Café Central coffee house
- See also:
(Palais Mollard houses two museums)
Vienna has a strong connection to Esperanto. For example, the city has hosted the World Esperanto Congress four times (most recently in 1992).
The multilingual nature of the Austro-Hungarian Empire also drove inevitable interest in a common language after Esperanto first developed in the late 19th century.
The Esperanto Museum lives inside Palais Mollard, one-time neighbour of the 19th-century police censorship office. The core of the building dates back to the late 17th century, but numerous alterations, renovations, and refurbishments have changed the look since.
The museum inside is quite small (just two rooms, essentially), but enough to give you a brief insight into the concepts behind Esperanto.
Videos and displays introduce you to the history of the institution and language, explain the linguistic principles behind the latter (with the help of a Pac-Man-like game!), and outline the philosophy underpinning Esperanto’s development: a humanitarian vision and promotion of intercultural understanding.
(Exhibition view inside the museum; press photo © Österreichische Nationalbibliothek/Pichler)
As such, you can see how the ideas enshrined within the Esperanto movement have influenced such modern-day concepts as the EU, the Euro, and even brand names.
Inevitably (and sadly), an ostensibly linguistic activity enraged various authorities with little love for concepts such as “a humanitarian vision” and “intercultural understanding”.
Hitler, for example, banned Esperanto, and his Gestapo closed the Vienna museum in March 1938. The museum’s first director – Hugo Steiner – even spent time in a Nazi concentration camp.
The museum also gives a nod to other artificial languages, from Homer’s efforts through to Klingon.
Indeed, if you happen to be in town during the Long Night of Museums, you can typically attend Esperanto and Klingon classes as part of the evening entertainment.
Tickets & visitor tips
Entry to the Esperanto Museum requires a combination ticket that also covers the Globe Museum (in the same building). An adult ticket cost €5 at the time of writing. The Vienna All-Inclusive Pass (my review) includes one-time free entry to both institutions.
Carry on past the ticket desk to find coin-operated lockers.
If you fancy a cup of coffee after your visit, meander further down the street to Café Central, possibly the best-looking coffee house in all Vienna (but expect queues).
How to get to the Esperanto Museum
Palais Mollard has its own subway station practically outside the front door: the aptly-named Herrengasse station on the U3 line. The 1A and 2A buses also drop you nearby at the Michaelerplatz or Herrengasse stops.
Otherwise, a short walk from the old town hub gets you there on foot.
Address: Herrengasse 9, 1010 Vienna | Website