If you like sharp corners and straight lines, look away now. The Kunst Haus Wien is art within art: the building itself follows a Hundertwasser design and the Hundertwasser museum inside acts as a showcase for his inimitable work. Not to mention the excellent photo exhibitions.
Bring your imagination and a sense of wonder…
- Wonderful interior architecture with delightful surprises
- Large collection of works by Friedensreich Hundertwasser
- Regular international photo exhibitions
- Rather nice (and unusual) café in there, too
- Choose the combined museum and photo exhibition ticket (best value by far)
- Current/future photo event:
- Unseen Places exhibition
- See also:
Kunst Haus Wien
The Kunst Haus Wien essentially consists of two parts: the Hundertwasser Museum and a temporary photographic exhibition.
The building, 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. 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 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
The photo exhibition
The top-class (international) photo exhibitions on the upper floor, split across two levels, always provide a treat for the eyes and mind. Which is why I recommend paying the small extra to get a joint ticket for both exhibition and museum (see below).
Current/next main photo exhibition:
- Unseen Places (until February 19th, 2023)
Get a feel for the range and quality of the photo exhibitions from this review archive. Such photo greats as Susan Meiselas and Alec Soth have had recent solo exhibitions, for example.
The Kunst Haus Wien often has other art installations and smaller exhibitions dotted around the premises, and the institution also organises the Foto Wien photographic festival.
Tickets & visitor tips
At the time of writing, a standard adult ticket for the Hundertwasser Museum costs €11. However, an extra €1 (one!) gets you a combined museum and photo exhibition ticket (most definitely worth it).
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
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
- An alternative ticket option is the Vienna Pass (a sightseeing pass), which gets you into both parts of the Kunst Haus once for free
- 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
- Another good address in Vienna for photo exhibitions is the Westlicht photography centre, which also has a small camera museum
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