One of our favorite places to be in Europe—or anywhere—is Vienna in springtime (though as the late Anthony Bourdain finally had to admit, it’s pretty bloody charming at Christmas, as well). And though our recent plans to visit were shelved by the coronavirus outbreak, we’re making every effort to feel like we are actually there right now, via the miracle of 21st Century technology.
Of course, the Austrian capital is a wealth of art and culture at any time of the year, thanks to 600+ years of Hapsburg rule. And the city has deftly reacted to the worldwide travel lockdown by virtually opening up its magnificent museums for utterly fascinating digital viewing.
Certainly, we’ll miss the view of St. Stephen’s while nursing a glass of Zweigelt at the Onyx Bar at the Do & Co Hotel; or sweating to the grooves at canalside club Grelle Forelle. But right now, a bit of Klimt and German Expressionism will do just fine, thank you—while we look forward to our inevitable return to Österreich.
(N.B. Vienna tourism has a full complement of virtual tours available for viewing here.)
Housed in the striking 18th Century palace of Duchess Maria Christina and Duke Albert of Saxen-Teschen, the Albertina holds some of the most exalted works of German Expressionism, the Russian avant-garde, and the greats of Cubism and Surrealism. But it is also boasts one of the most important collections of Old Master prints, and modern graphics and photography. The virtual tour features beautifully provocative works by Albrecht Dürer, Egon Schiele, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jean-Honoré Fragonard…we could go on. It will keep you rapt for hours.
An internationally renowned arts and crafts museum housed in the 19th Century Stubenring building, it is a regular pilgrimage for architecture and design aficionados. But two current exhibitions that have been moved online convey the artistic range of this always surprising institution. First, the Hamazanama is a 16th Century heroic epic from India, telling the story of Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib, who was, believe it or not, the uncle of the prophet Muhammad, with strikingly transporting imagery. While Gustav Klimt and the Palais Stoclet allows for an edifying peek into the working methodology of the visceral Vienna Secession master.
The opulent Schönbrunn Palace is a World Heritage Site, and Vienna’s most visited cultural institution. Once the summer playground of the Hapsburg princes, its more than 1400 lavishly Rococo rooms now make it one of Europe’s most significant architectural treasures. The virtual tour takes you through hundreds of historical furnishings, porcelains, ceramics and, of course, canvases. Plan to primp up a bit before signing in, for a properly aristocratic experience.