The History of the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art

1863 / On 7 March, following lengthy efforts by Rudolf von Eitelberger and persuasion from his uncle Archduke Rainer, Emperor Franz Joseph finally sanctions the establishment of a museum after the model of the South Kensington Museum (today’s Victoria and Albert Museum), which was founded in 1852. The museum is to be known as the Imperial Royal Museum of Art and Industry, and Rudolf von Eitelberger, the first professor of history at the University of Vienna, is appointed it first director. This institution is to serve as an exemplary collection for artists, industrialists, and the public, and as a center of training and continuing education for designers as well as craftsmen.

1864 / On 12 May, the museum is opened in a provisional location, adjacent to the Vienna Hofburg in a section of the Ballhaus building adapted by architect Heinrich von Ferstel to serve as a museum. The initial objects on exhibit are loan items and gifts from the Imperial collections, monasteries, private collection,s and the Imperial Royal Polytechnic Institute in Vienna. Reproductions, galvano copies, and plaster casts stand next to originals as equals.

1865–1897 / The Museum of Art and Industry publishes the magazine Mittheilungen des k. k. Österreichischen Museums für Kunst und Industrie [Transactions of the Imperial Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry].

1866 / Due to the lack of space in the Ballhaus, efforts to provide the museum with its own building are intensified. An initial project by Rudolf von Eitelberger and Heinrich von Ferstel proposes the museum’s integration into the project of the court museums on the planned Imperial Forum (Kaiserforum) in front of the Hofburg. Only after this project was canceled were the grounds of the defense barracks’ former drill field just outside the Stubentor—next to the newly created Stadtpark and on the Ringstraße, which was still under construction here—assigned to the museum.

1867 / With the establishment of the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule [Vienna School of Arts and Crafts], theoretical and practical training are united. The school is at first housed in the old gun factory at Währinger Straße 11–13 and at Schwarzspanierstraße 17, in Vienna’s 9th district.

1868 / Construction on the Stubenring building begins immediately upon approval of Heinrich von Ferstel’s second design by Emperor Franz Joseph I.

1871 / Following three years of construction, the new building on Stubenring opens on 15 November. Built in the style of the Renaissance according to plans by Heinrich von Ferstel, it is the first museum building on the Ring. The museum’s objects can now be permanently displayed and grouped according to materials. // The School of Arts and Crafts also moves into the building on Stubenring. // The Österreichische Kunstgewerbeausstellung [Austrian Exhibition of Arts and Crafts] opens.

1873 / Vienna World Fair // The Museum of Art and Industry and the School of Arts and Crafts exhibit together on Stubenring. // As part of the World Exposition, Rudolf von Eitelberger organizes the world’s first art studies conference in Vienna, thus emphasizing the museum’s orientation toward education and research. // During the World Exposition, important purchases are made for the museum with funds from the responsible ministry, including 60 pages of the Indo-Persian Mughal manuscript Hamzanama.

1877 / A decree introduces a tax on newly granted court titles. The funds thus raised are used to support the domestic arts industry. // Opening of the new School of Arts and Crafts building (also designed by Ferstel) adjacent to the museum at Stubenring 3.

1878 / Participation by both the Museum of Art and Industry and the School of Arts and Crafts in the Paris World Fair of 1878

1884 / Establishment of the Wiener Kunstgewerbeverein [Viennese Arts and Crafts Association], which is headquartered at the museum. Numerous well-known companies and workshops (above all J. & L. Lobmeyr), personalities and professors at the School of Arts and Crafts join this organization. Its objective is to further expand all the powers of creativity and execution developed by the city’s arts and crafts industry since the 1860s. To this end, several temporary and publically accessible exhibitions are organized at the Imperial Royal Museum of Art and Industry. Objects on exhibit are available for purchase. With these novel and lavish exhibitions, the association manages to generate the domestic and international resonance necessary for the realization of its aims.
 
1885 / Following Rudolf von Eitelberger’s death, Jacob von Falke—his longtime deputy—is appointed director. Falke plans to present all of the collection’s individual areas in a new and systematic way via both exhibitions and publications. With his popular publications, he has a significant influence on the decorative style of historicism in Vienna.
 
1888 / The Kaiserin-Maria-Theresia-Ausstellung [Empress Maria Theresia Exhibition] enlivens contemporaries’ interest in the high baroque period of art history in general and applied arts in particular.
 
1895 / The directorship of Jacob von Falke ends. Bruno Bucher, the museum’s longtime curator of metal, ceramics and glass and deputy director since 1885, is appointed director.
 
1896 / The Wiener Congress-Ausstellung [Vienna Congress Exhibition] initiates engagement with the Empire and Biedermeier styles, both of them sources of inspiration for Viennese modernism.
 
1897 / The directorship of Bruno Bucher ends. Arthur von Scala, since 1875 director of the k. k. Orientalisches Museum (known from 1887 as the Handelsmuseum or Trade Museum), takes over as director of the Museum of Art and Industry. // Scala succeeds in bringing Otto Wagner, Felician von Myrbach, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann and Alfred Roller on board to work at the museum and at the School of Arts and Crafts. // The style of the Secession becomes dominant at the School of Arts and Crafts. Scala propagates the model of the Arts and Crafts Movement and makes corresponding acquisitions for the museum’s collection.

1898 / Due to conflicts between Scala and the Arts and Crafts Association, which sees its influence on the museum beginning to wane, Archduke Rainer resigns as the museum’s protector. // New statutes are drawn up.
 
1898–1921 / The museum periodical Kunst und Kunsthandwerk succeeds the Mittheilungen and soon gains international repute.
 
1900 / The museum and the School of Arts and Crafts each receive their own separate administration.
 
1904 / The Ausstellung von Alt-Wiener Porzellan [Exhibition of Old Viennese Porcelain], to this day the most comprehensive presentation on this topic, unites important pieces owned by collectors from all regions of Austria-Hungary with the legacy of the k. k. Aerarial Porzellan-Manufaktur (later: Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur), which the museum had acquired for good in 1867.
 
1907 / The Museum of Art and Industry takes over a large part of the Austrian Imperial Royal Trade Museum’s collection, including the objects which would form the Asia Collection (founded by Arthur von Scala) and the extensive East Asia collection of Heinrich von Siebold.
 
1908 / Integration of the Museum of Art and Industry with the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Public Works

1909 / Separation of the School of Arts and Crafts and the Museum; the latter is placed under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Education. // Following three years of construction work, the building designed by Ludwig Baumann as an enlargement of the museum (today’s Weiskirchnerstraße 3, 1010 Vienna) is opened. The museum now has spaces for temporary and permanent exhibitions. // Arthur von Scala retires and is succeeded as director by Eduard Leisching. // The museum’s statutes are updated.
 
1909 / Erzherzog Carl-Ausstellung. Zur Jahrhundertfeier der Schlacht bei Aspern [Archduke Carl Exhibition. On the Centennial of the Battle of Aspern-Essling] // The Biedermeier style becomes the theme of exhibitions and a topic in Kunst und Kunsthandwerk [Art and Craft].
 
1914 Ausstellung von Arbeiten der österreichischen Kunstindustrie 1850–1914 [Exhibition of Works from the Austrian Arts Industry, 1850–1914], an exhibition emphasizing, among other things, the exemplary effect of the museum on arts and crafts in the fifty years since its establishment.
 
1919 / After the establishment of the First Republic, the holdings previously in the possession of the Habsburgs—e.g. oriental carpets—are handed over to the Museum, after which they are shown in an exhibition in 1920. Today, the museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of oriental carpets.
 
1920 / As part of the First Republic’s reform of museums, the museum’s areas of collection are defined and limited. The Museum of Art and Industry’s collection of objects from antiquity are transferred to the Kunsthistorisches Museum [Museum of Art History].
 
1922 / The precious objects from the museum and from private collections shown in the Ausstellung von Gläsern des Klassizismus, der Empire- und Biedermeierzeit [Exhibition of Classicist, Empire, and Biedermeier-Period Glass] offer an overview of the glassmaking art in the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. // Biedermeier glass serves as a model for contemporary glass production and design, such as that of Josef Hoffmann.
 
1922 / Integration of the museum holdings of the Court Silver and Table Room into the museum. Until the two institutions are separated, the former imperial household goods and table decorations are co-administered by the Museum of Art and Industry; during this phase, Richard Ernst compiles the first-ever inventory of them.
 
1925 / Following the end of Eduard Leisching’s directorship, Hermann Trenkwald is appointed director.
 
1926 / The exhibition Gotik in Österreich [The Gothic Period in Austria] provides the first-ever comprehensive look at Austrian panel painting and the arts and crafts of the 12th to 16th centuries.
 
1927 / August Schestag succeeds Hermann Trenkwald as director.
 
1930 / The Werkbundausstellung Wien [Vienna Werkbund Exhibition], an initial comprehensive presentation of the Austrian Werkbund, takes place in connection with an assembly of the German Werkbund in Austria; it is organized by Josef Hoffmann together with Oskar Strnad, Josef Frank, Ernst Lichtblau and Clemens Holzmeister.
 
1931 / August Schestag ends his directorship.
 
1932 / Richard Ernst is appointed director.

1936 and 1940 / The Museum on Stubenring gives a part of its sculpture collection to the Kunsthistorisches Museum [Museum of Art History]. In exchange it receives the arts and crafts section of the collections of Albert Figdor and of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
 
1937 / The Museum of Art and Industry’s collection is reordered by Richard Ernst according to period. // Oskar Kokoschka Ausstellung [Oskar Kokoschka Exhibition] for the artist’s 50th birthday
 
1938 / Following Austria’s annexation by Nazi Germany, the museum is renamed “Staatliches Kunstgewerbemuseum in Wien” [State Arts and Crafts Museum in Vienna].
 
1939–1945 / Austria’s museums take over several confiscated private collections. The collection of the “State Arts and Crafts Museum” is among those thus augmented.
 
1945 / Partial destruction of the museum building due to the war; loss of collection objects, even at the sites of their safekeeping
 
1946 / The return of removed art objects begins. Over the following years, some of the objects confiscated during the Nazi period will be returned.
 
1947 / The “Staatliches Kunstgewerbemuseum in Wien” is renamed “Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst” [Austrian Museum of Applied Arts].
 
1948 / The “Cathedral and Metropolitan Church of St. Stephen” uses the Museum of Applied Arts for its exhibition Der Stephansdom. Geschichte, Denkmäler, Wiederaufbau [St. Stephen’s Cathedral: History, Monuments, Reconstruction].
 
1949 / The museum is reopened following the repair of war-related damage.
 
1950 / The exhibition Große Kunst aus Österreichs Klöstern (Mittelalter) [Great Art from Austria’s Monasteries (Middle Ages)] is held as the final showing under museum director Richard Ernst.
 
1951 / Ignaz Schlosser is appointed director.
 
1952 / The exhibition Soziale Wohnkultur [Social Residential Culture], designed by Franz Schuster, once again makes the development of public housing in Vienna a theme of the Museum of Applied Arts.

1955 / The complete archive of the Wiener Werkstätte is acquired.
 
1955–1985 / The museum begins publishing the periodical alte und moderne kunst [Old and Modern Art].
 
1956 / The exhibition Neue Form aus Dänemark [New Shapes from Denmark] makes modern design from Scandinavia a topic and also a model for the museum.
 
1957 / In connection with the exhibition Venini Murano Glas, the first presentation of Venini glass in Austria, major purchases and gifts augment the Glass Collection.
 
1958 / The directorship of Ignaz Schlosser ends.
 
1959 / Viktor Griessmaier is appointed director.
 
1960  / The exhibition Künstlerisches Schaffen und Serienproduktion aus Gustavsberg, Schweden. [Artistic and Mass Production from Gustavsberg, Sweden] examines the model character of Swedish design for Austrian artisan craftsmanship and design.
 
1963 / For the first time in Europe, Iranian art is shown as part of a comprehensive exhibition (entitled Kunstschätze aus dem Iran [Treasures of Art from Iran]).
 
1964 / The exhibition Wien um 1900 [Vienna circa 1900] presents Art Nouveau arts and crafts for the first time following the Second World War. // Systematic study of the Wiener Werkstätte Archive commences. // On the occasion of the museum’s hundredth anniversary, the exhibition 100 Jahre Museum für angewandte Kunst [100 Years of the Museum of Applied Arts] presents a look into the collection using examples from the historicist period.
 
1965 / The Geymüllerschlössel becomes a branch of the museum.  Together with the building, Franz Sobek’s important collection of old Viennese clocks from the period between 1760 and the second half of the 19th century likewise joins the MAK Collection, as does furniture made between 1800 and 1840.
 
1966 / The exhibition Selection 66 brings together selected works by modern Austrian designers.
 
1967 / The exhibition Die Wiener Werkstätte. Modernes Kunsthandwerk 1903 bis 1932 [The Wiener Werkstätte: Modern Arts and Crafts, 1903 to 1932] founds the still-booming renaissance of Austria’s most significant 20th-century design project.
 
1968 / Viktor Griessmaier is succeeded as director by Wilhelm Mrazek.
 
1969 / The exhibition Sitzen 69 [Sitting, ’69] shows works by Austrian designers (including Hans Hollein) oriented toward international modernism.
 
1974 / For the first time outside China, “Archeological Discoveries from the People’s Republic of China” (Archäologische Funde der Volksrepublik China) are shown in the so-called West as part of a touring exhibition.
 
1979 / Gerhart Egger is appointed director.

1980 / The exhibition Neues Wohnen. Wiener Innenraumgestaltung 1918–1938 [New Living: Viennese Interior Design, 1918–1938] presents the first comprehensive showing on interior decorating in interwar-period Vienna.

1981 / Hebert Fux succeeds Gerhart Egger as director.

1984 / Ludwig Neustifter is appointed interim director. // The exhibition Achille Castiglioni: Designer is the first showing of works by this Italian designer in Austria.

1986 / Peter Noever is appointed director and begins building the Collection of Contemporary Art.

1987 / Josef Hoffmann. Ornament zwischen Hoffnung und Verbrechen is the first comprehensive showing of this architect and designer’s œuvre

1989–1993 / Complete renovation of the museum’s old buildings and construction of both a two-story underground depot and a connecting wing. A generous storage facility and additional exhibition space are the result.

1989 /
The exhibition Carlo Scarpa. Die andere Stadt  [Carlo Scarpa: The Other City] is the first comprehensive exhibition on the oeuvre of this architect outside of Italy.

1990 / The exhibition Verborgene Impressionen. Japonismus in Wien 1870–1930 [Hidden Impressions: Japonisme in Vienna, 1870–1930] is the first exhibition on the topic of the Japanese influence on Viennese modernism.

1991 /
The exhibition Donald Judd. Architektur  is the first major presentation of works by this artist in Austria.

1992 / Magdalena Jetelová: Domestizierung einer Pyramide [The Domestication of a Pyramid] (Installation at the MAK Columned Main Hall)

1993 / The Permanent Collection  is redesigned, with interventions by internationally acclaimed artists (Barbara Bloom, Eichinger oder Knechtl, Günther Förg, GANGART, Franz Graf, Jenny Holzer, Donald Judd, Peter Noever, Manfred Wakolbinger, and Heimo Zobernig) updating the viewing perspectives in keeping with the idea of “tradition and experiment.” The various rooms on Stubenring also house the Study Collection and the gallery devoted to special exhibitions featuring the work of contemporary artists. The building on Weiskirchnerstraße is used for the museum’s program of temporary exhibitions. // The reopening exhibition Vito Acconci: The City Inside Us shows a whole-room installation by the New York artist.

1994 / The Arenbergpark Flak Tower becomes a branch of the MAK. // Beginning of the cooperation between the MAK and the MUAR – Schusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow. // Ilya Kabakov: Der Rote Waggon (Installation on the MAK Terrace Plateau)

1995 / The MAK founds the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles at the Rudolph M. Schindler House and the Mackey Apartments; in October, the MAK Artists and Architects-in-Residence Program commences its activities. // Exhibition: Sergej Bugaev Afrika: Krimania

1996 / For the exhibition Philip Johnson: Turning Point the American doyen of architecture creates the sculpture Wiener Trio, installed since 1998 on Franz-Josefs-Kai/Schottenring

1998 /
The skyspace designed for the exhibition James Turrell: The other Horizon is set up in the garden of the MAK’s Geymüllerschlössel branch. // Overcoming Utility: Dagobert Peche and the Wiener Werkstätte is the first comprehensive post-World War II solo exhibition dealing with the oeuvre of this Wiener Werkstätte designer.

1999 / The Art Restitution Act and provenience research lead to numerous objects confiscated during the Nazi period being returned to their rightful owners from this point onward. // Exhibition Jannis Kounellis: Il sarcofago degli sposi

2000 / Austria’s federal museums are removed from state administration; the museum becomes a “public-law academic institution.” // The exhibition  Kunst und Industrie. Die Anfänge des Österreichischen Museums für angewandte Kunst in Wien deals with the early history of the museum and its collection.

2001 / For the exhibition Franz West: Merciless the sculptor and installation artist develops one of his most extensive works hitherto; during the course of the show the Four Lemurheads are installed on the Stubenbrücke next to the MAK. // Exhibition Dennis Hopper: A System of Moments

2001–2002 / The project CAT – Contemporary Art Tower is presented in Vienna after having been introduced in New York, Los Angeles, Moscow, and Berlin.

2002 /
The exhibition KNOTS: symmetric_asymmetric. The MAK’s Historical Oriental Carpets and Film Inserts of the Present presents the museum’s extensive oriental carpet collection.

2003 / The exhibition Zaha Hadid: Architecture provides an overall view of the architect’s entire œuvre as well as a presentation of current projects. // The Wiener Werkstätte’s founding a century before is celebrated in the exhibition Yearning for Beauty. For the 100th Anniversary of the Wiener // Richard Artschwager: The Hydraulic Door Check Skulptur, Malerei, Zeichnung

2004 / In November, James Turrell’s installation MAKlite is installed permanently on the façade of the MAK. // The exhibition Peter Eisenman. Barefoot on White-Hot Walls features a large-scale architectural installation on the oeuvre of this influential American architect and theoretician.

2005 / Exhibition Atelier Van Lieshout: Der Disziplinator // The exhibition Ukiyo-e Reloaded: The MAK Collection of Japanese Colored Woodblock Prints is the first large-scale presentation of the MAK’s collection of Japanese colored woodblock prints.

2006 / The beginning of this year sees the MAK join with the Moravian Gallery in Brno to run the birth house of Josef Hoffmann in Brtnice, Czech Republic as a joint branch. // The exhibition Yearning for Beauty. The Wiener Werkstätte and the Stoclet House shows Wiener Werkstätte objects in Brussels. // Exhibition:  Jenny Holzer: XX 

2007/2008 / Exhibition: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU: Beyond the Blue

2008 / The Fitzpatrick-Leland House (1936) by architect Rudolph M. Schindler, a generous gift of Russ Leland to the MAK Center LA, becomes the center for the project MAK UFI – Urban Future Initiative, which is supported by a grant to the MAK Center Los Angeles by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. // The exhibition Recollecting. Looted Art and Restitution sheds light on the state of efforts to restitute objects confiscated from Jewish owners and presently in Viennese museums.

2009 / The permanent exhibition Josef Hoffmann: Inspirations opens at the Josef Hoffmann Museum in Brtnice. // Exhibition: Anish Kapoor. Shooting into the Corner // The museum defines itself as a propagator of cultural interchange, and in the exhibition global:lab. Art as a Message. Asia and Europe 1500–1700 makes a theme of intercultural and intercontinental cultural exchange with a presentation of objects from the MAK and from international collections.

2011 / Following Peter Noever’s resignation, Martina Kandeler-Fritsch becomes acting director. //
2011 / On 1 September, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein assumes directorship of the MAK and defines “Change through applied art” as the MAK’s new guiding theme.
 
2012 / The commitment to positive change through applied art becomes evident in the exhibition MADE4YOU. Design for Change, which explores seminal design examples for mobility, public health, and education, the working world and recreational activity. // The new program series MAK DESIGN SALON opens the MAK Branch Geymüllerschlössel to contemporary design positions.
 
2012/2013 / The opening of the newly designed MAK Permanent Collection Vienna 1900. Design / Arts and Crafts 1890–1938 in a two-phase project is the kickoff for the successive renewal of the MAK Permanent Collection under Director Christoph Thun-Hohenstein.
 
2013 / SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER. Searching for Contemporary Istanbul presents a topical snapshot of contemporary art production in the context of the city of Istanbul. // The potential of East Asian countries as catalysts of a socially and ecologically oriented, visionary form of (global) architecture is explored in the exhibition EASTERN PROMISES. Contemporary Architecture and Spatial Practices in East Asia. // With its emphasis on the field of furniture design, the exhibition NOMADIC FURNITURE 3.0. New Liberated Living? is the first to examine the DIY revolution situated on the threshold between the subcultural and the mainstream including a look at its historical context.

2014 / 150th anniversary of the MAK // Opening of the MAK Permanent Collection Asia. China – Japan – Korea // Opening of the MAK Permanent Collection Carpets // The dynamic MAK DESIGN LAB (Redesign of the MAK Study Collection), the central jubilee project, opens on 12 May 2014, the exact date of the MAK’s 150-year anniversary. // Further main jubilee exhibitions: EXEMPLARY: 150 Years of the MAK – From Arts and Crafts to Design // HOLLEIN // WAYS TO MODERNISM: Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos, and Their Impact