I can’t think of a better way to begin the New Year than a short trip to some lovely place packed with museums — it has already become a tradition for me. Last year I spent a few remarkable days in London, one of those cities that are especially close to my heart. I’ve been there twice, and if someone told me I could go there right now, I’d be ready in, like, 30 seconds. My first visit to London was a real milestone in my cultural education. It was there that I fell in love with Mark Rothko, discovered that a collection of decorative arts can be truly fascinating (long live the V&A Museum!), and got obsessed with museum shops and all those pretty gadgets that I’d like to purchase, although I’m not quite sure if they are of any use. This year I headed for Vienna, a city that is a real treat for museum lovers.
I’ve been there five or six times, so checking the programme of Viennese exhibitions at least twice a year has already become my habit. It seems that January is one of the best moments to go to Vienna. First days of the New Year is a time when many temporary exhibitions are just about to finish, while some new ones already open here and there. I spent a couple of days preceding the trip searching the Internet and planning my visit. I decided that there will be no mercy! I wanted to see some of my favourite places, as well as finally visit those I haven’t been to before, e.x. Naturhistorisches Museum (yep, shame on me!). My excitement reached the highest level when I found out that my beloved MAK Museum is currently hosting the Star Wars Identities exhibition, presenting unique objects from the collection of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (which is to open in Chicago in 2018). Having this in mind, and waiting impatiently to see other temporary exhibitions, I ended up with the following plan of my visit to Vienna:
Tue, 5th January
Naturhistorisches Museum — to catch a glimpse of the permanent collection and see Balloon Venus (Orange) by Jeff Koons installed temporarily in the entrance hall of the museum;
Kunsthistorisches Museum — to visit the exhibition Joseph Cornell: Fernweh, which was a rare occasion to see Cornell’s amazing collages owned by museums and private collectors from all around the world;
Leopold Museum — here my main targets were temporary exhibitions The Fleeting Beauty and A Rush of Color. Masterpieces of German Expressionism, as well as the redesigned permanent collection of works by Egon Schiele;
MAK Museum — considering the huge interest in the Star Wars Identities exhibition, I wanted to make sure that I will have enough time to see it without rush. Well, it turned out to be impossible. Luckily enough, I managed to leave the exhibition at 5:45 PM and literally run through the MAK’s permanent collection, which has been redesigned since my last visit there in 2014.
Wed, 6th January
Lower Belvedere — last time I’ve been to Belvedere I’ve seen an exhibition of Emil Nolde, with a stunning collection of his watercolors. This time Belvedere prepared an exhibition Klimt/Schiele/Kokoschka and Women, with an intimate narration presenting stories of women who modeled for most significant paintings created by each of the three artists.
Winter Palace of Prince Eugen — it’s been my first visit to this baroque residence located within the city center, and being a branch of Belvedere Museum. I would have probably never got there if it hadn’t been for a spectacular exhibition of Olafur Eliasson, who intervened into authentic 18th-century interiors with his installations.
Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien — I got attracted by a poster of an exhibition Love in Times of Revolution, presenting works created by artistic couples of the Russian avant-garde. The idea seemed really interesting, but I feel like the authors of exhibition didn’t actually exploit its potential.
Albertina Museum — I can’t think of an exhibition that Albertina could do in a wrong way. This place is a killer; no matter what they do, they do it the best. This time I’ve seen a mind-blowing exhibition of prints by Edvard Munch, a huge display of Romanticism, an elegant presentation of the black-and-white photography from Albertina’s collection, and the semi-permanent exhibition Monet to Picasso.
As you can see, I managed to see quite a lot despite having such a small amount of time. Obviously, if I were to Vienna for the first time, my plan would have looked much different. Anyway, each of the visited places undoubtedly deserves a notion, therefore I’d like to stay in Vienna for a bit longer with museum assistant. I can’t wait to share my impressions on what I’ve seen, as well as to give you some tips that might be useful while visiting Viennese museums. Stay tuned!