If you like sharp corners and straight lines, look away now. The Kunst Haus Wien is art within art: the building follows a Hundertwasser design and the museum inside showcases his inimitable works.
- The museum is closed until the start of 2024 for renovation and reorganisation
- Wonderful façade and interior architecture
- Large collection of Hundertwasser works
- Selected special separate exhibitions:
- TBA post-renovation
- CLOSE/D (outdoor – Jun 28 to Oct 31, 2023)
- See also:
- Photo exhibitions in Vienna
(The sign says it all)
The Kunst Haus Wien essentially consists of two parts: the Hundertwasser Museum and one or more entirely separate (thematically) special exhibitions and/or installations.
Bring your imagination and a sense of wonder…the building alone, designed by Hundertwasser himself, snubs its nose at the conformity of modern architecture and illustrates his artistic and philosophical vision through a multi-coloured façade, uneven lines, and use of live vegetation.
Inside is no different.
Tiled floors merge into wooden floorboards. “Tree tenants” reach outside from the safety of their interior boxes. And walls curve and swerve their way around the galleries.
Even the stairway bannisters join in the fun, with no one newel the same as the next.
(I had to look up the word “newel”. It’s the capped vertical bits in the banisters.)
Anyway, it’s all a joyous experience even before you get to the museum’s actual exhibitions.
(The remarkable front façade)
Two floors trace Hundertwasser’s artistic endeavours from the 1940s through to the last years of his life.
(NB: the Hundertwasser exhibition will be completely reorganised in the second half of 2023, so the below may no longer apply after the museum reopens, though I’ll update as soon as possible.)
This journey begins with pencil sketches and conventional landscapes before quickly morphing into the “classic” Hundertwasser styles: striking colours, rings, spirals, uneven forms, and images that draw you in, revealing themselves and their depth only after close examination.
As Hundertwasser said himself:
The straight line is godless
But the museum covers more than just his paintings, with sections devoted to, for example, his stamp, flag and number plate designs, as well as his architecture.
You also find small bonuses interspersed among the works of art and architecture, such as Hundertwasser quotes and displays illustrating his philosophies on life (such as “the plant as water purification facility”).
The whole museum serves as a treasure trove for fans of Hundertwasser’s work, but a few exhibits left a particularly lasting impression on me. For example:
- The famous image of Hundertwasser is “bearded with a cap” (you can see one such headwear in the museum), but a 1947 self-portrait shows the artist as a young man, his clean-shaven countenance a stark contrast to that traditional image
- A display cabinet with gorgeous embossed Hundertwasser book covers
- A large model of a proposed architectural project, “In the meadow hills”, with houses integrated into their surrounds, streams, and curving paths. Sheep graze on grassed roofs. Echoes of Tolkien’s The Shire and Hobbiton…
- The Japanese woodcuts and silk screen paintings which pop with colour, glistening in the light
(Press photo © Kunst Haus Wien 2016; photo by Thomas Meyer)
A top-class separate exhibition fills the upper floor, split across two levels (unless you visit during the setting-up period).
These have traditionally focused on photography as a medium, but will take a more general remit in line with a “Green Museum” theme after a period of reorganisation (see below). These special exhibitions have always provided a treat for the eyes and mind.
Current/next main exhibition:
- TBA for 2024 post-renovation
- CLOSE/D: artistic interventions outdoors in the surrounding community (June 28th to October 31st, 2023)
Get a feel for the range and quality of the exhibitions from this review archive. Such photo greats as Susan Meiselas and Alec Soth had recent solo presentations, for example.
The Kunst Haus Wien often has other art installations and smaller exhibitions dotted around the premises, too (usually on a green theme).
Tickets & visitor tips
The museum closed on June 1st 2023 for a period of renovation and reorganisation that looks set to last until the start of 2024. Check locally for precise details.
I’ll update this section as soon as details reach me of the reopening.
A few tips and notes:
- All display information is in both English and German, with an audioguide available, too
- A good-sized shop has exactly what you might expect: Hundertwasser designs turned into postcards, calendars, posters, porcelain, umbrellas, and other items. This is the place to purchase your Hundertwasser hat, too
- The architectural concept extends to the toilets, which might be the most intriguing in all of Vienna
- Ditto the Kunst Haus café and restaurant. Grab a coffee, if only to sit in what feels like a madcap converted conservatory, complete with tropical vegetation
- Other good addresses in Vienna for photo exhibitions are:
How to get to the Kunst Haus Wien
The Kunst Haus Wien is a conveniently short walk from the famous Hundertwasserhaus, but both are a tiny bit away from most other tourist destinations.
Tram: take tram 1 or O (that’s the letter O) to Radetzkyplatz. If you’re in the centre, you can catch the 1 from, for example, Schwedenplatz station on the U1 and U4 subway lines.
Address: Untere Weißgerberstraße 13, 1030 Vienna | Website