If you like sharp corners and straight lines, look away now. The Hundertwasser Museum is art within art with the surrounding Kunst Haus Wien building itself a Hundertwasser design and the museum contents a showcase for his inimitable work. Bring your imagination.
- Wonderful interior architecture with lots of delightful surprises
- Large collection of works by Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000)
- Rather nice café in there, too
- Choose the combined museum and photo exhibition ticket (best value by far)
- Fast-track tickets available online* or go in once for free with a Vienna Pass
- See also: Hundertwasser guide
Kunst Haus Wien
The Hundertwasser Museum is actually one part of the Kunst Haus Wien. The other part is made up of temporary photographic exhibitions (currently Alec Soth). But it’s all the same building.
That building, designed by Hundertwasser himself, snubs its nose at the conformity of modern architecture and illustrates his artistic and philosophical vision through its multi-coloured facade, uneven lines, and use of live vegetation.
Inside is no different.
Uneven tiled floors merge into wooden floorboards. “Tree tenants” reach outside from the safety of their interior boxes. 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.
Two floors trace Hundertwasser’s artistic endeavours from the 1940s through to the last years of his life. This 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.
Interspersed among the works of art and architecture are small bonuses, 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 his 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 in particular…
- The Japanese woodcuts and silk screen paintings which pop with colour, glistening in the light
The photo exhibition
Current exhibition (until August 2020):
- A solo exhibition of Alec Soth’s work
Tickets & visitor information
At the time of writing, the Hundertwasser Museum opens daily from 10am to 6pm, with a standard adult ticket* priced at €11 for the museum. However, it’s just an extra €1 to get a combined museum and photo exhibition ticket. An alternative is the Vienna Pass (a sightseeing pass), which gets you into both once for free.
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
How to get to the Hundertwasser Museum
The Hundertwasser Museum is a conveniently short walk from 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