Wien Museum, Karlsplatz

From Budapest to Vienna, via one surprisingly quick train journey, I found myself with a whole new city full of museums to explore. Vienna is a city known for its, *ahem* idiosyncratic character, full of laconic wits with a morbid bent, and a whole load of odd museums. But where to begin?

Personally, I’m a big fan of city museums. They tell you so much about a place, the people, and the character of a city (looking at you, Museum of London).

This being my first time in Vienna, I headed straight to the Museum of Vienna in Karlsplatz, right in the heart of the city.

The museum building itself is out of step with the surroundings. The concrete block looks more like an office complex than a museum, standing out from the stately structures that surround it.

Wien Museum, Karlsplatz
Wien Museum, Karlsplatz

Enough about the outside though; what’s inside?

One of the things that I enjoyed most, was a scale model of Vienna. A physical representation of the city is a good starting point to help anyone understand more about where they are. There’s a different model on each floor, showing how much Vienna had changed over time. But sometimes, what stays tells us more than what changes. In all the iterations of the city of Vienna, one building constantly dominates the skyline; St Stephen’s Cathedral.

A scale model of early Vienna
A scale model of early Vienna

With a history going back almost 1000 years, it’s not surprising that the most important religious building in the city stands out.

Vienna is a city with a history of being an artistic hub. The Wien Museum shows off the city’s arty side, as well as the historical stuff. I enjoyed this piece, which celebrates Wine, Women and Song as the best things in life.


The jewel of Wien Museum’s art crown is Pallas Athene (1898) by Klimt.

Athene, the goddess of the arts and crafts (and a few other things) by Klimt
Athene, the goddess of the arts and crafts (and a few other things) by Klimt

Rather striking, isn’t she? One thing that struck me in particular about Vienna, was how ubiquitous reproductions of Klimt’s work is. Go to London, or any other UK city and all you’ll see are Union Jacks and “Keep Calm and…” posters. I like that Vienna is a bit classier, with its Klimts and Mozart Balls.

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