Sandwiched halfway between a 12th-century monastery and a 14th-century church in Vienna’s historic centre is an institution with a rather more modern flavour to it: the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien. Think Magritte rather than monks.
- Venue for international art exhibitions, with the eras covered varying from the late-19th century through to the present day
- Exhibitions have featured numerous renowned artists, such as Man Ray, Kandinsky, Kahlo, Chagall, Warhol…
- Expect display information in both German and English
- Current main exhibition:
- Rebecca Horn (from September 28th, 2021)
- Recent main exhibitions:
- Adult ticket costs €11 (or free one-time entry with a Vienna Pass)
- See also: Vienna museums | Kunsthalle Wien | Contemporary art
International art exhibitions
The Kunstforum fits snugly into the historical surrounds at the heart of old Vienna. Although the building is “only” just over a hundred years’ old, documents suggest the first house on the site went up no later than the early 15th century.
It seems a little trite to call the place an “exhibition space” but that’s what it is, with a clear focus on a creative period that begins with the diverse genres of late 19th-century art and continues all the way through to the present day.
There is no permanent exhibition, but rather a series of staggered temporary exhibitions (one or two at a time), commonly presenting works from prestigious private collections and museums.
So, for example, one Picasso exhibition featured paintings from the personal collection of Bernhard Picasso. And a Chagall exhibition displayed works loaned by such institutions as Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery, St. Petersburg’s State Russian Museum, New York’s Guggenheim and MOMA museums, Paris’s Centre Pompidou, and London’s Tate Gallery.
A brief review of the many past events throws up such resonant names as Monet, Manet, Man Ray, Magritte and Miró, Klimt, Kahlo, Kokoshka and Kandinsky, Degas and Dalí, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Bacon…the list goes on.
So, as you can tell, you have a good chance of finding something rather special inside.
The ground floor provides space for the main exhibition, which inclues some marvellous tall-ceilinged rooms so you don’t feel cramped. But the Kunstforum also has a small exhibition space in the basement (the tresor – a former bank vault), for newer international artists to showcase their talents.
The location only opens, of course, when it has an exhibition on. At the time of writing, the provisional schedule is:
- September 28th, 2021 to January 23rd, 2022: Rebecca Horn exhibition
- October 3rd, 2021 to November 21st, 2021: Mirjam Baker (tresor)
- December 1st to January 23rd: Edgar Tezak (tresor)
- February 10th, 2022 to June 19th, 2022: David Hockney exhibition
Incidentally, the art inside shares the building with Austria’s constitutional court. There’s surely a pun to be made here about judging things, but, well, never mind.
Oh, and those two old buildings mentioned in the introduction?
One is Schottenstift (a Benedictine monastery founded in 1155), the other is the Kirche am Hof (a church constructed in the late 1300s and now home to the Croatian Catholic Mission to Vienna):
Tickets & visitor tips
An adult ticket cost €11 on my visit, though a Vienna Pass (review) gets you free one-time entry.
A few tidbits of info:
- The smaller exhibitions in the tresor are free
- You can leave your coats and jackets in a staffed cloakroom (free, but donations welcome).
- When I visited, all display information in the main exhibition was bilingual: German and English
- A large(ish) shop sells books (mostly in German, of course), greeting cards (ditto), postcards, and various artistic paraphernalia. As with the tresor, you don’t need a ticket to visit the shop
How to get to the Kunstforum
It’s hard to find a more central art museum than this one. The Freyung is just off the historical centre of medieval Vienna and a square famous for its Christmas and Easter markets. Walk toward the centre from the Kunstforum and you immediately reach Am Hof square, which is so old they keep finding Roman ruins beneath it.
Subway: either take the U3 line to Herrengasse station or the U2 line to Schottentor station
Bus/tram: Schottentor has more trams than a transport museum. Lines 1, D, 71, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44 all stop here. The 1A bus also starts there and takes you one stop to Teinfaltstraße close to the museum. Or take the 1A or 2A to the Herrengasse stop (just outside the wonderful Café Central)
Address: Freyung 8, 1010 Vienna | Website