If Vienna is a city of contrasts, then so is the Richard Neutra exhibition at the MUSA. Bright, friendly house designs and photos juxtaposed with details of his formative years in imperial Vienna and WWI.
- One large room’s worth of displays
- One part showcases Neutra’s house designs, the other introduces his biography (with a focus on the relationship to Vienna)
- All info text in English, too
- Runs Feb 13 – Sept 20, 2020
- See also: MUSA visitor and tickets info
When you know that Richard Neutra was Jewish and left his hometown of Vienna for the USA in the first half of the 20th century, then you might expect a familiar tale of enforced exile fleeing from the Nazis.
On this occasion, though, there’s a happier story. Neutra left in 1923, long before the Nazis arrived in Austria, though his family were not untouched by the cold hand of anti-semitism and oppression in the 1930s and during WWII.
In his new home across the Atlantic ocean, Neutra’s achievements as an architect saw him rise so far in esteem that he even made it on to the cover of Time magazine.
The Richard Neutra: California Living exhibition at Vienna’s Wien Museum MUSA essentially contains two mini-exhibitions in one.
Neutra’s fame derives mostly from his modern designs for residential Californian homes. The exhibition presents nine exemplary houses created on the drawing board of the great man, each illustrated with, for example, large-format contemporary photographs and supporting text on the history of the development.
These presentations encircle the central section of the exhibition, which guides you along a brief timeline of Neutra’s life and career.
If you view the house displays first, with their bright, modern, window-rich and airy architecture, the contrast of breezy Californian design with Neutra’s early life is rather stark.
In fact, it seems almost hard to credit that he grew up in pre-WWI Vienna and befriended Freud’s son, for example. The contrast grows stronger when you learn that Neutra fought in WWI, when he also designed his first building…an innocent little tea pavilion in Trebinje (in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina).
As such, Neutra emerged from that swirl of architectural revolution led by the likes of Adolph Loos and Otto Wagner, but threw off the weight of history to find his way into the hearts of Californian homeowners.
It’s only a small exhibition, but lovingly done. And the layout fits the topic perfectly, with the exhibition architecture seemingly mirroring that open, airy style of Neutra.
Dates and tickets
Admire Richard Neutra’s work from February 13 to September 20, 2020. The Wien Museum MUSA opens every day but Mondays and May 1st during the exhibition, from 10am to 6pm. The exhibition is the only paid area of the location, so get a ticket from the counter (cost €7 for a standard adult ticket at the time of writing).
How to get to the MUSA
The main MUSA article has the details. The Richard Neutra exhibition is in the main one-room gallery to the left of the ticket counter.
Should you leave the building and feel in need of some refreshment, then the area is home to a couple of very traditional Viennese establishments: Café Landtmann and Conditorei Sluka. Both score seriously high points for their cakes, so get your chocolate face on.
Address: Felderstraße 6-8, 1010 Vienna