Imagine a museum where fine craft, contemporary art, architecture and design are perpetually engaged in stimulating conversation. That’s the MAK arena.
Bentwood chairs by Thonet, a hammered-silver tea service and ebony writing cabinet from the Wiener Werkstätte, a mosaic design by Gustav Klimt for the Stoclet Palais frieze: These are only a sampling of the treasures housed in the Renaissance-style palais in Vienna the MAK calls home.
What began in 1863 as an impressive collection of arts-and-crafts pieces, from the Middle Ages to the present, has expanded to include rotating exhibitions of contemporary art. You’ll find early 19th-century sofas in green, yellow or red that make a colorful argument for the Biedermeier style as the cradle of modern design. Spend days coveting the world’s largest museum collection of Wiener Werkstätte objects—exquisite pieces in glass, porcelain, silver, and textiles meant for everyday use. At night, James Turrell’s illuminating installation puts the museum’s historic holdings in a modern light.
Reflecting 1920’s modernism up through today’s multimedia approaches, the Contemporary Art collection showcases such notables as Donald Judd, Gorden Matta-Clark and Franz West. Its architecture holdings include scale models from Coop Himmelb(l)au, Frank O. Gehry, Zaha Hadid and other contemporary headliners. A particular highlight is the Frankfurt Kitchen by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. Unveiled for public housing in 1926, her streamlined design creates efficient use of space that still resonates today.
Time for a mélange or a glass of wine? Stop in at Österreicher im MAK for a modern twist on traditional Austrian fare. Sounds like one of our favorite museums.