Saunter through the streets of Vienna, twirling your moustache and dipping your hat at a passing carriage. Or blink at the bright lights of a 21st-century metropolis.
- The Instantly! Street Photography in Vienna exhibition shows photos from the late 1800s to modern times
- Includes previously unseen works as well as those by photographers of renown
- Hosted at the Wien Museum MUSA
- Runs May 19 – Oct 23, 2022
- See also:
- Current & future photography exhibitions in Vienna
(August Stauda, Kaserngasse (now Otto-Bauer-Gasse), Vienna, around 1902; photo from the Wien Museum Collection)
Many coffee table books of Vienna feature those glorious hi-resolution photos of the numerous historical or architecturally-interesting buildings that fill the city. History becomes a series of palaces and churches interspersed with portraits of monarchs and musicians.
The Instantly! exhibition at the Wien Museum MUSA offers another view of Vienna through contemporary and historical street photography.
Today’s Instagram culture invites us all to be street photographers, documenting urban life both fake and real.
While the exhibition also captures such modern aesthetics, the photos on display date all the way back to the late 1800s, too: a time of fewer smartphones and more sideburns.
A chronological journey along cobblestones and pavements offers fascinating perspectives.
The photographs capture the banal and everyday, offer glimpses of raw humanity away from the polished brochures and advertisements, give life to history, and measure out the transformation of a city in a series of snapshots of time…
So we see, for example, a crowded tram from the early 20th century: the ladies in hats you only see today at weddings and Ascot. And we look down familiar streets free of road markings and roadside signs, which conveys a remarkable feeling of space.
The exhibition draws primarily on the vast photo collection of the Wien Museum with some works appearing in public for the first time. I use the collection regularly when researching posts for this website or simply indulging in fun “then and now” comparisons.
The photographers featured include such early documenters of everyday life as Emil Mayer (1871-1938) or August Stauda (1861-1928), but also star photographers like Ernst Haas (one-time president of the legendary Magnum Photos) or Franz Hubmann (subject of a 2021 solo exhibition at the Albertina).
In among the displays, you find little treats such as Mayer’s photo of a traffic policeman just before WWI, complete with helmet and sword.
Or Andreas Baumann’s 1998 photos of “Vienna motorists out and about”, which captures the Viennese soul in skeptical faces.
But there are moments of poignancy, too, such as soup kitchen queues in the 1930s or images of women waiting for the return of prisoners of war in 1948.
In summary: a delightful pot-pourri of Viennese life through the decades.
Dates, tickets & tips
Travel through the streets and alleys of Vienna from May 19th to October 23rd, 2022. Buy a ticket for the exhibition from the counter once you’re inside the building proper.
The Instantly! exhibition adds another arrow to the quiver of photography exhibitions in Vienna in 2022.
In particular, be sure to see what’s on at the Kunst Haus Wien at that time: the When the Wind Blows photo exhibition runs from March 12th to August 28th, for example.
How to get to the exhibition
See the Wien Museum MUSA article for travel tips. One neighbour is the Rathaus, so you might pass the exhibition as you admire Vienna’s newly-renovated neogothic city hall.
Address: Felderstraße 6-8, 1010 Vienna