Design and architecture in Vienna has various renowned eras. But what about the periods in between? The Mid-Century Vienna photographic exhibition draws attention to a neglected post-war period.
- Presents highlights of locations, buildings, and interiors from 1950-1965
- Based on the work and photos of Tom Koch and Stephan Doleschal
- Open-air displays accessible 24/7 at the Wien Museum construction site
- Runs Sept 23, 2021 – Jan 9, 2022
- See also: The Wien Museum
Raise a glass to the 50s and early 60s
(Alte Donau Federal Bath, Section N, opened in 1951 © Stephan Doleschal / Mid-Century Vienna)
When it comes to artistic eras in Vienna, a few stars grab all the glory. The ostentatious Baroque flouting its gold ornamentation. The refined Biedermeier thumbing an elegant nose at such excess. The Wiener Moderne and Jugendstil ploughing fresh paths through the last years of a dying monarchy. And so on…
The Mid-Century Vienna exhibition walks away from the red carpet and slips around the back of history to throw a light on a less-celebrated era: 1950 to 1965.
The architecture and design of the time still felt the reverberations and deprivations of World War II and fascism. Vienna was gingerly putting itself back together again, physically and spiritually. A time of consolidation, not experimentation.
Much talent had been lost to Nazi persecution and those that emigrated rarely returned. And a new generation of architects and designers had yet to fully emerge. Which left a cadre walking a tightrope between economic expediency, functionality, renewed optimism, modernism and conservatism.
Despite these constraints, the mid-century still managed to produce a few highlights. And the buildings and infrastructure remain all over Vienna, largely ignored by those dazzled by Imperial monuments, 19th-century townhouses, and Klimt’s genius.
We can thank Tom Koch (graphic designer and exhibition curator with Peter Stuiber) and Stephan Doleschal (photographer) for revealing these mid-century treasures through the exhibition. Koch’s research and Doleschal’s photos take us on a journey though a Vienna not so much undiscovered as unnoticed.
The photos open our eyes and minds to the unobtrusive and unappreciated. So we discover mini golf facilities, sewing stores, schools and broadcast towers. Equally, one or two buildings of the time have still managed to elbow their way into the Viennese cultural conscious.
The Stadthalle (completed 1958), for example, remains Vienna’s top venue for shows, concerts, and other events. And the Ringturm tower (1955), dominates one side of the city centre and hosts regular contemporary art installations and architecture exhibitions.
Tickets & dates
Enjoy the photos of this half-forgotten era from September 23rd, 2021 to January 9th, 2022.
Mid-Century Vienna slots into a series of exhibitions that make the most of the temporary closure of the Wien Museum (opened in 1959!) on Karlsplatz. The fence around the construction site for the new museum building provides the gallery. Which means open-air and open access: visit any time of day or night for free.
How to get to Mid-Century Vienna
Simply find your way to Karlskirche church and look left when facing the front of this Baroque masterpiece.
The Wien Museum sits at the opposite end of Resselpark to Karlsplatz station. So if you arrive at Karlsplatz on the U1 or U4 subway lines, look for the Resselpark exits to the east. That route takes you past Otto Wagner’s famous station pavilion, too (since we’re talking historical architecture).
Address: Karlsplatz, 1040 Vienna