Despite its relatively modest size, Vienna contains an astounding number of museums. In this series of images from 2002 and 2003, the Monkey stops by a handful of the Austrian capital’s most famous museums.
The Monkey pays tribute to the artists of the Austrian Secession with his visit to Vienna’s Sezessionhaus. Utterly constrained by the classicist strictures of the imperial academy, in the waning years of the 19th Century a group of nineteen artists headed by Gustav Klimt rebelled against the state-imposed norms. An architect among them, Joseph Maria Olbrich, designed the Secession House as a sort of temple-gallery for the work of these independent artists. Heavily damaged during Allied bombing in World War II, the Sezessionhaus has been carefully restored and houses, among other works, Klimt’s famous Beethoven Frieze, a detail of which is below.
A detail of Gustav Klimt’s 1902 Beethoven Frieze from the Sezessionhaus, “The Hostile Powers.” The Monkey bears no relation to that frightful chap in the center.
The Monkey takes in the grandiose environ of the Maria Theresienplatz, named for Empress Maria Theresa. To the left is the back of the 1888 bronze statue of the Empress. To the right is the mammoth Italianesque block of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, built between 1872 and 1881. It houses one of the world’s great art collections. Adding to the monumentality of the locale is the fact that a twin to the Kunsthistorisches Museum sits symmetrically across the square from it: the Naturhistorisches Museum, or Natural History Museum.
One of the newcomers on the Viennese museum scene is the architecturally startling Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK), or Modern Art Museum. Designed by Viennese architects Ortner & Ortner, this basalt lava-clad gray treasure chest is one of several museums in the city’s MuseumsQuartier neighborhood. MUMOK was erected amongst its more baroque neighbors from 1995 to 2001.
The recently developed MuseumsQuartier area boasts an exciting clash of architectural styles that thrilled the Monkey.
The Monkey is quite certain that this design-forward little two-seater will end up in a number of museum collections some day soon, and for that reason alone he’s included it on this museum-oriented page. The Smart Car, designed by a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler, really is quite clever: Its tiny size and tight turn radius make it a perfect car for urbanites, and it cruises pretty well on the highways, too. These mini motors are an increasingly common sight on Europe’s streets.
The Monkey gets caught in a high-contrast moment before visiting Vienna’s illustrious Albertina Museum. The stately 18th Century palace, built atop some of Vienna’s medieval fortifications, once housed the personal art collection of the Hapsburg Duke Albert. Now state property, the Albertina was recently remodeled and contains an extensive collection of graphic arts.
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