Pop into a former WWII underground shelter to find angry apes, daring plumbers, and other celebrities from the imagination of the world’s game designers. The Retro Gaming Museum presents a chronology of gaming tech. And, yes, you can try some yourself.
- Maps out the evolution of video gaming equipment
- Includes some playable games and consoles
- Nice trip down memory lane
- Display info in English and German
- See also:
Pong and PlayStations
(The entrance to the bunker and museum)
Cast your mind to 1986 and an austere Oxford college.
While others sharpen their intellect on tomes of wisdom and knowledge, one lowly student sharpens his hand-eye coordination on arcade consoles in the student bar.
Hunched in tension over a game of Centipede, our (cough) hardworking student frantically dodges the wandering spider and throws bolts of energy at each marauding myriapod. (He knows they’re myriapods because he’s studying biology…allegedly.)
And those days are back…thanks to the Retro Gaming Museum.
The museum only opened in mid-2023 so is still finding its feet. At the moment, though, you have a largely chronological journey through the development of gaming technology.
Small displays present the appropriate computers, consoles, game cartridges, and similar. So a place to spot a ZX Spectrum. Or the original Xbox, Wii and PlayStation.
More importantly, you have various stations where you can play some of the associated games (for free). Beginning with the original Pong, widely regarded as the grandmother of all video games.
So try your hand at the early iterations of such joys as Pac-Man or Donkey Kong on original equipment. I had to tear my companion away from Tetris, still addictive even without all the bells and whistles of modern versions.
Tackle one or two arcade consoles, too, including Centipede (be still my beating heart). And even a couple of VR headsets bring us into today’s world.
Back to the past
(The museum really is close to the Haus des Meeres)
The Retro Gaming Museum sits next to the flak tower now housing the Haus des Meeres aquarium and vivarium. The entrance takes you into an underground air raid shelter used in WWII.
The bunker has a preservation order on it, so you can still see the old ventilation equipment and read signs warning people to keep away if they have an infectious disease (plus ça change).
As well as demonstrating the remarkable technical evolution of the gaming market, the museum serves as a time travel machine for those of us from, shall we say, an older generation.
Perched on the stool in front of Centipede, I could practically smell the stale beer and feel the guilt of seeing the food budget disappear into the coin slot.
Younger children will also appreciate the simplicity of the earlier games.
Tickets and tips
At the time of writing, you buy your tickets on site with adult entrance costing €9.50 and various concessions available.
The unusual location means cool temperatures. While welcome on my visit during a summer heatwave, you may still want to take a pullover or jacket (particularly for those seasons when cooling off is no longer desirable).
Given the location and preservation orders, you do need to use steps to go down into the museum.
Consider, of course, nipping across to the Haus des Meeres before or after: another family attraction and really rather good. (Sharks!) The rooftop restaurant has its own lift and spectacular views across Vienna.
How to get to the museum
Once you reach the flak tower housing the Haus des Meeres, you want the side opposite the main doors. You should easily spot the protruding entrance to the shelter and museum (opposite the junction of Schadekgasse and Nelkengasse).
Subway: the location is practically a neighbour of the Neubaugasse station on the U3 line that traverses the centre of Vienna
Bus: the 13A and 14A buses pass through. Get off at either the Haus des Meeres or Neubaugasse stops, depending on which direction you come from. The 57A also serves the Haus des Meeres.
Address: Fritz-Grünbaum-Platz 1, 1060 | Website