We recently attended a lunch with the Vienna Tourism Board where we got some insights into the city's history and future.
Art historian and Vienna expert Joseph Koerner discussed “Vienna‘s secret interior” - dream homes and dream spaces—from ancient Roman ruins and historic buildings like the Secession Building: a temple to both art and artists. The interior is completely empty for customizable art exhibits, and work by Klimt.
Other historic buildings are being restored and reopening in the coming months: The Winter Palace, for example, opened just the other week as a new art gallery. (It spent years as the ministry of finance.) After next April, it will be dedicated to contemporary artwork.
Next year is the 75th anniversary of the death of Sigmund Freud, so various celebrations of his work (and his family) will take place throughout the city. Most notably, an exhibit of artwork by his grandson Lucian will be on display at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The selection of works was made with the close personal involvement of the artist during the months prior to his death in July 2011. In addition, the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna will present concurrently an exhibition of photographs by Freud’s longtime assistant David Dawson titled "Lucian Freud: In Private".
The Jewish museum will celebrate its 25th anniversary, and will be getting its first permanent exhibit next month. And with the 100th anniversary of World War I coming up, the city is remodeling its memorial to the war, with the renovations scheduled to be completed by the time of the centenary. The memorial will have some notable displays, including the car, shirt and sofa of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination is credited to starting the war.
The MAK Museum of Applied Arts will celebrate its 150th anniversary by closing its Study Collection this month and reopening it in May as the MAK Design Learning Lab.
To celebrate a different kind of art, 2014 will also be the 10th anniversary of the Vienna Blues Spring (the largest Blues festival in all of Europe, we hear) and the 200th anniversary of both the Vienna Congress and the Vienna Ball Culture.
Hotels and Transportation
Vienna's hotel scene has seen some major improvements by top-notch brands. Just last year, the city got a new Ritz-Carlton hotel along the central Schubertring Boulevard, created from four historic palaces that date back to the 19th century. The hotel maintained many original design features, including a grand marble staircase, decorative mural paintings and intricate wood carvings and panelling.
The ME by Meliá Vienna, operated by Spanish brand Sol Meliá, Vienna will open at the end of this year in the DC Tower, which, at 58 floors, will be the city's tallest building. (The hotel will be on the first 15 floors.) Conceived by architect Dominique Perrault, the DC Towers are a futuristic landmark on Vienna’s skyline, soaring more than 700 feet above the Danube.
A Park Hyatt will open this coming June in a former bank. We hear the hotel will be close to prime shopping areas and the second-largest Louis Vuitton store in the world.
Earlier this year, the Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, began a series of restorations (led by Pierre-Yves Rochon, we hear) with the debut of 10 new suites. The full restoration will last two years. In addition to the suites, the redesign will include the hotel's ground floor areas (think lobby, Restaurant Bristol and Bar Bristol). And the The Palais Hansen Kempinski Hotel made its debut in spring, after a two-and-a-half year restoration under the guidance of Vienna-based architect Boris Podrecca. The building was originally a hotel for the 1873 World Exhibition, but had been closed ever since.
In 2015, a new train station will open in Vienna as a hub for the continent's high-speed rail lines. The full complex is expected to be complete in 2019.