Tag Archives: museums

Lange Nacht der Museen

Every October,  ORF hosts a “Long Night at the Museums”.  On this evening, museums all over Vienna (and cities across Austria) open at 6pm and stay open until 1am.

The special ticket, about 13 Euros (reduced price for children), gives you an all access pass to every participating museum in Vienna between 6pm and 1am.  You can museum hop all over town with a small booklet outlining every museum and its offerings in English.  Some museums are notable while others are quirky sites where some people would never consider a closer look.  ORF provides buses at many stops to shuffle museum goers between locations.

This year, we began with an early dinner followed by the Egyptian/Greek and Roman exhibits at the Kunsthistorisches Museum.  Then, we walked over to Heldenplatz and ran into the Welt Museum with its “Franz is Here” exhibit about Franz Ferdinand’s world travels.  The Welt Museum is connected to the Neue Burg so we continued walking along the corridors do some interesting armory exhibits among many others and another on an excavation of Epheseus.

We continued walking around and ended up at the Papyrus Museum, the Globe Museum and the Esperanto museum which was interesting, quirky and small.  They had a demonstration of Klingon and the exhibit itself focused on a brief history of the Esperanto movement.  A short film in English was available to visitors.

In case you are curious, there were plenty of children out and about with their parents fairly late into the evening.  Certain museums hosted children’s programs (in German).  In the Neue Burg, they were providing the opportunity for children to try on medieval armor.  I also heard about the Dental Museum offering programs about dental hygiene for those with “brushing challenges”. Please note that if you plan to museum hop with kids, you may want to pick a certain area to avoid having them tire out too quickly.

Would I have paid to visit some of the lesser known museums on an average day?  Probably not.  But they were well worth discovering for the regular price of a ticket to the Kunsthistoriches museum.

The booklet in English is available here free of charge to use as a guide to explore Vienna’s plethora of museums year round.

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Travel guide – Sopron

Reviewed by Mary: My family and I have taken a couple day trips to Sopron, Hungary, but thus far our activities have been limited to what is outside. I’ve included links to some of the city’s museums, but we’ve not visited them (yet!) so I cannot speak to them first hand.

Driving to Sopron from Vienna:

Sopron is an easy, one-hour drive from Vienna along the A3. I know that you need a Hungarian vignette to drive on their major highways (i.e., if you were headed to Budapest), but once you cross the border into Hungary you are on a secondary/non-highway road. We have thus never purchased the vignette for our excursions into Sopron and we have not experienced any problems. (But if someone reading this knows for a fact this is wrong and you do in fact need a vignette, please correct me!)

We have always parked at the parking garage by the Petőfi theater on Petőfi tér: it is very inexpensive, and an easy (less than 10-minute) walk to the historic city center from here. As a bonus, if you walk to the city center from the garage along Széchenyi tér, you will pass by a bakery offering all manner of tempting sweets at a very low price. The staff at the bakery speak German as well as Hungarian, and will accept payment in Euros.

Things to do:

As you walk towards the Firewatch Tower, whose gate leads into the old inner city, you will see remnants of the city’s old defensive walls. My children spent a large amount of time running along the walls, imagining they were defending the city. As we were following them along the wall, we noticed three interesting things: multilingual signs along the wall that explained the history of the city and the remaining structures; the open air museum of reconstructed Roman walls and remains of some Roman buildings, and; the walking path that leads you around what remains of the city’s perimeter wall.

Along the city wall

Along the city wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open air Roman museum (behind the gate)

Open air Roman museum (behind the gate)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as we are sure that Sopron is safe from “the bad guys,” we spend the rest of our time in the city eating and exploring the city’s historic center.

Street leading to Firewatch tower

Street leading to Firewatch tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main square

Main square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sopron also boasts a pharmacy museum, bakery museum, and chocolate factory.

Restaurant Recommendations:

1. Fogas Étterem, located on Előkapu. As I mentioned earlier, we follow Széchenyi tér into the old part of the city, and this restaurant is located right before you get to the church and fire tower. The restaurant is very family-friendly: there is a play area in the back of the restaurant where the kids can play as you wait for your food. The bartender (?!?) kindly made our children hot chocolate, though it was not on the menu.

The restaurant’s specialty is seafood, but there are other hearty offerings. We had a platter that consisted of five huge pieces of various grilled meats situated atop a mound of fries. It was enough to feed our entire family, and it was very inexpensive. The restaurant accepts payment via credit card, Forint (the Hungarian currency), or Euro. The staff did not appear to speak English, but they did speak German.

2. Corvinus-Generális Étterem, Fő tér 7. Another location where you can get a large portion of hearty Hungarian fare for a very low price, payable in either Forint or Euro. The staff were very friendly, and I really appreciated how they greet you with a bowl of Erős Pista and a basket of warm bread.

Last but not least…

There is a Tesco Hypermarket located on the outskirts of Sopron. Tesco is a large British grocery store chain, and the one in Sopron is more akin to a Super Wal-Mart in that it sells household goods as well as groceries. We find the prices there to be lower than those in Vienna, so we always bring a cooler and stock up on grocery staples before we leave Hungary. And beer lovers, save space in your grocery cart for a case of the local Soproni beer.

for more information:

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
http://www.westlicht.com/en/

Gray Sundays in Vienna: Theater Museum

I am proud to say that on the very last day that my annual Kunsthistorisches Museum pass was valid, I finally made it to the Theater Museum.

Fountain in the foyer of the museum.

Fountain in the foyer of the museum.

The "Eroica Hall."

The “Eroica Hall.”

Located in a beautiful Lobkowitz Palace close to the Albertina, the Theater Museum is a small exhibition space with two or three collections on view at any given time.

At the moment, the main exhibit is about puppets, specifically Javanese -style rod puppets designed by an Austrian named Richard Teschner. I am not really into puppets, but these are very beautifully crafted ones.

Rod puppet.

Rod puppet.

More rod puppets.

More rod puppets.

Unfortunately–and somewhat inexplicably–there is exactly zero information in English in the museum. So, my understanding of what I was seeing was limited to what I could figure out from the German placards. It seems that Teschner was sort of the Terry Gilliam of his time and place, designing innovative puppets, stage sets, posters, and costumes in his own, unique style.

Theater poster.

Theater poster.

"Color organ" designed by Teschner.

“Color organ” designed by Teschner.

There was also an exhibit of Japanese theater design, and a lot of very not-PC (but amusing) photos from a turn of the century production of The Mikado. And, various other items related to theater productions scattered throughout: posters, props, a scale model of the Burgtheater, and so on.

Mock-up of a set for The Mikado.

Mock-up of a set for The Mikado.

To be perfectly honest, without any English translation, I would not pay 8 Euros to see this very nice, but small, museum. However, if you have the annual pass anyway, or if you can read German pretty well, it is a good place to while away an hour or so on a cold, gray Sunday in Vienna.

Reviewed by Kelly.

Theater Museum
Lobkowitzplatz 2
1010 Wien
www.theatermuseum.at

Gray Sundays in Vienna: The Imperial Carriage Museum

While the Sunday in question wasn’t technically gray, it was chilly and windy. A good day to cross another item off of our Bucket List!

Since we had annual passes to the Kunsthistoriches museums that were expiring soon, we decided it was a good day to finally check out the Imperial Carriage Museum at Schloss Schönnbrunn.  We are not really that into carriages. But with the KHM annual pass, admission is free. If you are new to Vienna, and want to check out a bunch of museums at a reasonable price, this pass is a great deal. Details here.

But first, a stop for lunch at the Residenz Café. This restaurant (owned by Café Landtmann), though a bit touristy due to its location at the palace, manages to remain a nice stop for lunch or a yummy dessert.

Take your pick, they are all wonderful.

Take your pick–they are all wonderful.

Stoked with truffeltorte and coffee, we headed over the check out the carriages.

The museum is bigger than you might expect, and displays a variety of carriages dating back to the time of Maria Theresa. They are mostly interesting just because they are so over the top, but I did learn a thing or two about early shock absorbers and traveling potties while looking them over.

A Baroque-era carriage.

A Baroque-era carriage.

A Victorian carriage.

A Victorian carriage.

A carriage designed for a very fat prince to be able to hunt without turning himself around (the seat swivels).

A carriage designed for a very fat prince to be able to hunt without turning himself around (the seat swivels).

Even the tiniest Hapsburgs had carriages, pulled by ponies, donkeys, or even well-trained sheep and goats.

Child-sized carriage.

Child-sized carriage.

There were a lot of very fancy sleighs as well. It seems that Vienna used to get a lot more snow!

Victorian sleigh.

Victorian sleigh.

The Carriage Museum also displays a lot of clothing and other memorabilia relevant to the Empress Elizabeth, AKA, “Sissi.” She apparently spent most of her life riding, hunting, and riding around in carriages, so there is a connection other than just catering to tourist Sissi-mania.

The museum can be visited in well under an hour, and with lunch, makes for a nice Sunday outing.

Kaiserliche Wagenburg Wien
Schloss Schönnbrunn
November to April:  daily 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
May to October: daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
www.kaiserliche-wagenburg.at