The National Library of Austria in Vienna hosts exhibitions in its wonderful Baroque State Hall, but also in various other museums attached to the institution.
The links below take you to my reviews of the more notable recent events.
- See also:
The State Hall
(The entrance to the State Hall on Josefsplatz square)
The main court library, constructed in the early 1700s, remains one of those locations you see constantly on Instagram. All Baroque glory, ceiling frescoes and giant leather-bound books.
This Prunksaal or State Hall also houses regular special exhibitions. For example:
- Fischer von Erlach (2023): an exhibition commemorating the 300 year anniversary of both the death of Fischer von Erlach and the start of construction on the State Hall (he designed it). Plenty of lovely old architectural drawings, plans, and similar.
- The Emperor’s Most Beautiful Animals (2022): a wide-ranging look through the depiction of animals in Habsburg court literature and art. The exhibition also highlighted the role played by native and non-indigenous animals in the life of that same court and its members.
- The Danube (2021-2022): a homage of sorts to a river intimately associated with Vienna and Austrian history. Not just a simple waterway, but a cultural icon, key economic transport route, landscape feature, and source of inspiration. Display items included Jakob Alt’s gorgeous artwork and a 44m river map from the 1800s.
- Beethoven (2019-2021): an exhibition that connected us to genius, since it featured numerous original letters by the composer as well as autograph manuscripts and other documents of the time. This included possibly my all-time favourite exhibit: a manuscript where Beethoven had written The copyist who inserted 3 and 6 here was a donkey.
- Emperor Maximilian I (2019): the life and interests of one of the more capable Habsburg emperors, who lived from 1459 to 1519. As you can imagine, we saw a range of beautiful documents that included manuscripts and books full of magnificent calligraphy, illuminations and illustrations.
(Also known as the Grillparzerhaus after the author, who worked in the building as director of the Archive of the Aulic Chancellery)
No prizes for guessing the topics covered at this location.
The Literature Museum has a permanent exhibition taking you through eras and themes in Austrian literature, but also hosts its own special temporary exhibitions on the top floor.
- Stefan Zweig (2021-2022): an exploration of the life and literary journey of the author of Chess Story and other works. Zweig is one of those rare Austrian writers to achieve truly global recognition.
- Utopias and Apocalypses (2020-2021): a rather timely exhibition in the middle of the COVID pandemic that presented various author visions of our future. From a 1518 edition of Thomas More’s Utopia through to Le Guin, Woolf and Bernard Shaw.