MUseum MOderner Kunst (MUMOK)
& Kunsthalle Wien in MuseumsQuartier Vienna
The three main museums in Vienna′s new art district MuseumsQuartier are the Leopold Museum on classic modern art, the Museum Moderner Kunst (Museum of Modern Art) or MUMOK and the Kunsthalle Wien. The MUMOK is situated in a characteristic building that stands out from the Baroque setting of what used to be the Imperial stables:
Its modern architecture is characterised by a very dark, grey lava stone with almost no windows. Surprisingly, the building is very light from inside do to a courtyard that transmits daylight into the galleries. A 10 metre wide staircase leads to the main entrance and it feels a bit like embarking a ship when you enter the massive grey tube with no straight walls some four metres above the ground level.
On the first floor, there is a direct connection to the neighbouring Kunsthalle in the historical parts of the MuseumsQuartier. The total size of the MUMOK is 14,000 square metres, of which "only" 4,500 square metres constitute the exhibition space.
Museum Moderner Kunst - MUMOK
The collection of the MUMOK includes some 7,000 pieces of modern art by such notable artists as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Joseph Beuys, Jasper Johns and Roy Liechtenstein. For some local flavour, you should see the exhibition dedicated to the Wiener Aktionismus ("Vienna Actionism"), Austria′s contribution to performance and event art in the 1960ies and the years that followed:
Blood, defecation and sexual actions in public space - all in the sake of art, where else can you watch that without feeling guilty? The permanent exhibitions are spread over three floors, with the arrangement changing annually. There are also changing exhibitions in the MUMOK with a temporary cinema, the "MUMOK factory".
Kunsthalle Wien (Art Hall Vienna)
The Kunsthalle Wien ("Art Hall Vienna") started as a container designed by Adolf Krischanitz as early as 1992. It was placed on the Karlsplatz Square and from the beginning a subject of fierce controversy. Once the first part of the MuseumsQuartier opened, the Kunsthalle moved to its current building that links the Leopold Museum with the MUMOK. The Kunsthalle shows exhibitions of contemporary artists, typically non-Austrian ones.
The container on the Karlsplatz was later replaced by a modern glass cube and still serves as a venue for smaller exhibitions for the so-called "project space" and as a café. The people behind the Kunsthalle pride themselves to be among the top-institutions of contemporary art in the World. The Italian art magazine "arte" considers the Kunsthalle to be one of the six best exhibition venues for contemporary art in Europe - alongside with Tate Modern (London), Kiasma (Helsinki), the Centre Pompidou (Paris) and the Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao).
This might be a generous estimate, but taken together, the MuseumsQuartier does justify a visit to Vienna all by itself. Some useful information for members of international terror organisations, aficionados of illegal pornography or friends of a life in anonymity: The MuseumsQuartier offers a free wireless LAN - no identification required, a policy that is meant to be a statement against accountability online that I personally don′t support, but I do enjoy the free LAN.
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