In Autumn 2021 the new Permanent Collection of the Architekturzentrum Wien opens, providing insights into the most significant and extensive collection of Austrian architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries. The focus is on the investigation of key objects, both high-profile and lesser-known items. Seven hot questions bring cold storage to life.
The Architekturzentrum Wien is the only museum in Austria devoted exclusively to architecture. The new Permanent Collection of the Az W replaces the existing ‘a_show’, which opened back in 2004. While the ‘a_show’ shows the whole story of architecture in Austria brilliantly in a chronological order the display is largely based on reproductions. As the Az W Collection has expanded over the last 17 years and consists of over 85 architects’ estates as well as an extensive collections of individual projects, a large number of objects are being shown for the first time in the new Permanent Collection ‘Hot Questions — Cold Storage’. Selected models, drawings, furniture, fabrics, documents and films develop new threads in seven thematic episodes. Each episode is preceded by one of today’s burning issues, from the impact of globalisation on our towns and villages, or the question of how we want to live, to the contribution that architecture can make to our survival on this planet. At the same time, ‘Cold Storage’ provides visitors with a view behind the scenes, in all the activities involved working in a collection.
The nation’s building activity with all of its cultural, social, economic and constructive ramifications is made strikingly visible. The contents covered range from the special significance of Red Vienna to architectural pedagogical experiments in the wake of the 1968 movement, or architectural revolts in Vorarlberg to historical and current examples of environmental rethinking. The exhibition also engages with the ideological instrumentalisation of architecture and spatial planning and the active collaboration of architects in authoritarian systems, as well as their resistance. At the same time, the exhibition challenges deficits in the canon of Austrian architectural history, for instance from a perspective of gender equality. New players are featured, light is shed on previously little known sources and the key focus is on multiple perspectives instead of on a national historical narrative. This diversity is also reflected in the exhibition design, which is by Michael Hieslmair and Michael Zinganel (tracing spaces). The sheer variety of the exponents and their display makes a visit to the exhibition a sensual and atmospheric experience.
The Architekturzentrum Wien aims to show and enquire into what architecture can do, which also forms the basis of the new Permanent Collection on display at the Az W. At the same time, we ask what collections can do. Museum collections are far more than the mere flotsam and jetsam of history. Their social relevance is shown in their questioning and visualisation, in the connection between the mandate to undertake research and to maintain a collection. The new permanent exhibition ‘Hot Questions — Cold Storage’ from the Az W Collection takes a critical approach to its own practice and makes an active contribution to a museum of the future.
Concept: Angelika Fitz, Monika Platzer
Curator: Monika Platzer
Curatorial Assistance: Sonja Pisarik, Iris Ranzinger, Katrin Stingl
Assistance: Barbara Kapsammer
Exhibition architecture: Michael Hieslmair and Michael Zinganel / tracing spaces
Graphics: Christoph Schörkhuber, seite zwei