Vienna: Top Exhibitions in Art Museums and Galleries in 2016

Natalia Gontscharowa The Cyclist, 1913 Saint Petersburg, State Russian Museum
Natalia Gontscharowa – The Cyclist, 1913 (Saint Petersburg, State Russian Museum)

In 2016, Chagall, Klimt, Kiefer and Kaiser Franz Joseph are top attractions in the major temporary exhibitions in Vienna’s best museums and art galleries. During the first half of 2016, the Albertina will have major exhibitions on the Russian Avant-gardes (From Chagall to Malewitsch) and woodcuts by Anselm Kiefer. The Belvedere will show Formkunst (Klimt to Braque) and Baroque art (Princely Splendor). Special exhibitions will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) and 250 years of public access to the Prater. A century after the death of Kaiser Franz Joseph, several major exhibitions will focus on the life of the emperor that ruled Austria for 68 years. The Wien Museum will look at the hat, or the social history of the covered head. Advance purchase, skip-the-line tickets are available for most museums in Vienna via Tiqets.

Special Exhibitions in the Albertina in Vienna

The Albertina, Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Wien, is one of Austria’s major art museums and have a wide variety of special exhibitions every year. Two particularly noteworthy in 2016 are:

From Chagall to Malewitsch – The Russian Avant-Gardes

Kazimir Malewitsch Aviator, 1914 Saint Petersburg, State Russian Museum
Kazimir Malewitsch
Aviator, 1914
Saint Petersburg, State Russian Museum
Marc Chagall Der Geigenspieler, 1912 Amsterdam,
Marc Chagall
The Violinist, 1912
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum © Photo Wien, 2015
Marc Chagall Promenade, 1917-1918
Marc Chagall
Promenade, 1917-1918
Saint Petersburg, State Russian Museum ©Photo Vienna, 2015

Chagall bis Malewitsch. Die russischen Avantgarden will be on show in the Albertina from 26 February to 26 June 2016. It will bring together around 140 major works from the Russian Avant-gardes to show the wide variety of works and ideas during this exciting period of art in the twentieth century.

Anselm Kiefer – The Woodcuts

Anselm Kiefer Wege der Weltweisheit: Die Hermannsschlacht, 1993
Anselm Kiefer
Wege der Weltweisheit: Die Hermannsschlacht, 1993
Albertina, Wien ©Photo Wien, 2015
Anselm Kiefer Der Rhein, 1993
Anselm Kiefer
Der Rhein, 1993
Albertina, Wien, ©Photo Wien, 2015

Anselm Kiefer. Die Holzschnitte, will be on show in the Albertina from 17 March to 19 June 2016. This major retrospective of one of the most important contemporary artists will show around 30 monumental works including important cycles and themes in which Kiefer demonstrates his intensive engagement in German history, culture and mythology.

Major Exhibitions by the Belvedere, Vienna

The Belvedere has some of Austria’s most important art works covering all genres from the Baroque to the modern. Klimt’s The Kiss is in the permanent collection of the Oberes Belvedere palace but two other Belvedere venues will host major exhibitions in 2016 too:

Formkunst in the Unteres Belvedere

František Kupka, Serie C VIII, 1935-1946
František Kupka, Serie C VIII, 1935-1946
Thyssen-Bornemisza Collections ©Photo: Belvedere, Wien, 2015

Formkunst. Klimt – Kupka – Hoffmann – Hölzel – Filla – Capek – Picasso – Braque will be on display from 10 March to 19 June 2016 in the Unteres Belvedere (Lower), Rennweg 6, 1030 Wien. This special exhibition has the ambitious aim of showing how the preconditions of related artistic styles within the Austro-Hungarian Empire would ultimately culminate in abstraction. Special attention is given to the common foundations of these artist including their training and education theories at the time.

Princely Splendor in the Winter Palace

Fürstenglanz. Europäische Barockgalerien und die Kunst der Ordnung, will be on show from 18 March to 26 June 2016 in the Winterpalais (Winter Palace), Himmelpfortgasse 8, 1010 Wien. This exhibition looks at the splendor of the art galleries and palaces of the European princes in the Baroque period.

Festivals in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

Feste Feiern – 125 Jahre KHM
© KHM-Museumsverband

The Kunsthistorisches Museum (art and history), Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2016. Feste Feiern – 125 Jahre KHM is a special exhibition from 8 March to 18 September 2016 focusing on how festivals were held and celebratory events established on the calendar in European royal courts, cities and the country side from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to the mid-eighteenth century.

Special Exhibitions in the Wien Museum

Vienna’s local history museum, Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Karlsplatz, 1040 Wien, will also have special exhibitions in 2016:

Praterautodrom PK Bunzl © Wien Museum
© Wien Museum

250 Years of the Prater

250 Jahre Prater from 10 March to 21 August 2016 looks at the two and half centuries of the Prater since Joseph II opened the royal hunting grounds in 1766 to the public. This huge pleasure park on the banks of the Danube near central Vienna is internationally most famous for its big Ferris wheel that has featured in many movies.

Damenhut – PK Bunzl © Wien Museum
© Wien Museum

Hats in the Wien Museum Karlsplatz

Chapeau! Eine Sozialgeschichte des bedeckten Hauptes, looks at the social history of the covered head – or hats – from 9 June to 30 October 2016. Although the focus is on the important role of hats in Viennese society in especially the 19th century, many of the hats on display come from many major European historical fashion collections.

Emperor Franz Joseph Memorial Celebrations in Vienna

Kaiser Franz Joseph auf der Freitreppe von Schloss Schönbrunn
© SKB Repro

The main commemorative event in Vienna is 2016 will be the 100th anniversary of the death of Emperor Franz Joseph. Kaiser Franz Joseph (born 1830, ruled 1848 – 1916) was emperor of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy for 68 years.

A century after his death, it is easier to concentrate on the pomp and ceremony and ignore that his conservative, autocratic rule and lack of democratic reform to modernize the empire largely contributed to the outbreak of the First World War and the demise of the empire and old order in Europe.

Many events will mark the Franz Joseph 2016 year but four major temporary exhibitions at royal venues from 16 March to 27 November 2016 will focus on different aspects of Franz Joseph’s life:

Man & Monarch in Schönbrunn Palace

Archduke Franz Joseph as Child
© SKB Repro

Mensch & Herrscher, Schloss Schönbrunn, Schönbrunner Schlossstraße, 1130 Wien will be in the summer residence of the Habsburgers in Vienna and look at Franz Joseph’s private life including his childhood, less than happy marriage to Elisabeth in Bavaria (often referred to as Sisi), suicide of his son Rudolf, and other defining moments in his long life.

Majesty & Modesty in the Imperial Carriage Museum

Repräsentation & Bescheidenheit, Kaiserliche Wagenburg Wien, Schönbrunner Schlossstraße, 1130 Wien, focuses on the transportation and clothing of the imperial family in the 19th century. Three main events illustrated are Franz Joseph’s marriage to Elisabeth (1854), his coronation in Hungary (1867) and his funeral (1916).

Festivities & Everyday Life in the Imperial Furniture Collection

Fest & Alltag, Hofmobiliendepot. Möbel Museum Wien, Andreasgasse 7, 1070 Wien, contrasts the modest personal demands of Franz Joseph with the glamour that the pomp and ceremony demanded of the head of the empire.

Hunting & Recreation in Schloss Niederweiden

Jagd & Freizeit, Schloss Niederweiden (Niederösterreich), Niederweiden, 2292 Engelhartstette, is an exhibition in a castle outside Vienna in Lower Austria and focuses on the emperor’s passion for hunting and the political significance of hunting in the period.

The Eternal Emperor in the Austrian National Library

Photo of Kaiser Franz Joseph Privat 1897
© Fotograf: Johann Kolb / ONB

Many further events will commemorate Franz Joseph with one of the most significant Der ewige Kaiser. Franz Joseph I. in the Prunksaal der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Josefsplatz 1, 1010 Wien. This major exhibition will be held form 8 April to 30 October 2016 in the State Hall of the Austrian National Library in the Hofburg. Franz Joseph was probably the most frequently pictured individual of the 19th century – the Austrian National Library alone has over 10,000 photographs, graphics and related documents from his lifetime. The original suicide letter left behind by Mary Vetsera in Mayerlin and an envelope closed with Crown Prince Rudolf’s seal will be shown to the public for the first time in this exhibition – these were only re-discovered early in 2015.

Hieronymus Bosch 500 in Vienna

Hieronymous Bosch: The Last Judgement / Das jüngste Gericht
Hieronymous Bosch: The Last Judgement / Das jüngste Gericht © Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

See also Hieronymus Bosch 500 Years Exhibitions for three special events in the Gemälde Galerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of this famous early Netherlands artist. At the center of these special events is his triptych painting The Last Judgment that famously includes half-man half-animal figures, bestial new creations and an emphasis on the punishment of the wicked.

See also: Top Contemporary Art Exhibitions in Vienna in 2016

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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