Gray Sundays in Vienna: the Westlicht Photo Museum

On this cold, gray, drizzly winter day, I visited the Westlicht “Showplace for Photography” in Josefstadt. What a cool little museum!

The exhibits, all of which are labeled in English as well as German, are about 1/3 devoted to the history of photography. There are several cases with interesting old cameras, and a few newer ones designed to be used in space, for example. I liked the spy cameras best.

A Soviet ring camera

A Soviet KGB ring camera.

A camera for carrier pigeons

A camera for carrier pigeons.

For really unsubtle spies, I guess

A camera for really unsubtle spies, I guess

Teeny-weeny cameras of various types.

Teeny-weeny cameras of various types.

Early professional portrait camera.

Early professional portrait camera.

The rest of the museum consists of actual photographs. The current exhibition features very old photos from the National Geographic collection. Some just seem bizarre to us now, but others rise to the level of art.

Those were the days?

Elephant hunters with tusks. Those were the days?

Sicilian peasant girls

Sicilian peasant girls.

Finally, there are two slide shows going at all times. One is an exhibit of mostly American Kodachrome photos that made me a bit homesick! The other is a collection of even older Autochrome photos. These were popular from their invention in 1907 to the advent of Kodachrome color film in the 1930s. The  Autochrome photos are really quite lovely and amazing for their time.

Autochrome photos projected on a wall

Autochrome photos projected on a wall

The museum also has a large coffee/wine bar (it apparently is an events venue as well) and a nice collection of posters and books in the adjoining bookshop. Nearby, on the same block of Westbahnstrasse, there are several photo supply stores: Leica, Nikon, etc.

The Westlicht exhibits can be viewed in about an hour, and the museum is a great place to get out of the rain on a gray Sunday in Vienna.

Reviewed by Kelly.

Westlicht Schauplatz für Fotografie
Westbahnstraße 40, 1070 Vienna


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