Sure Vienna’s Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) has awesome dinosaur bones and a mammoth and yes, the Kunsthistorische Museum has some impressive old art in fancy frames, but there’s a whole world of weird and wonderful to be discovered in the many small niche museums Vienna has to offer.
Visit one of Vienna’s lesser known weird and wonderful museums, and discover these hidden treasures that will make your mind go pop.
Opening times MON–FRI: 9am–4:30pm SAT (March–November): 10am–5:30pm
Regular entry fee: 6€
Sure, let’s kick this list off with one of the institutions deeply rooted in Vienna’s soul and psych. The cemetery (and death itself) hasn’t only been sung about in numerous Austrian folk songs, it’s also a place similar to the iconic Würstelstand: It doesn’t matter where you’re from and what your background is, we all end up here one way or another. If you want to check out the place you’ll likely be buried at before the big day actually comes, a visit to Bestattungsmuseum (engl.: burial museum) is a great reason to go there. Currently there’s an exhibition on display named “Accessoire Funéraire” – burial accessories. Artists designed urns and coffins to soften the blow and grief of death. And if you come here on the annual Lange Nacht der Museen, you can even test which coffin would be to your liking. Do dress you best for the occasion, will you?
Opening times October–May: MON–WED: 9am–12pm & 1pm–4pm SUN: 10am–4pm
Regular entry fee: 5€
At first we found the idea of a museum dedicated to ovens and heaters part dead-donkey boring, and part hilarious. But finding solutions to heat vast cities like Vienna is actually pretty daring and interesting. At Brennpunkt, you’ll get to see machines and inventions that came about during a time when it wasn’t guaranteed that your apartment would have that wow-it-is-so-hot-in-here-i’ll-take-off-all-my-pantaloons temperature when you got home in winter.
Hidden in a great medieval cellar below the shop, Liebenswert, the Condomi Museum welcomes everybody who wants to dive into the rich history of rubber contraceptives. And that’s pretty interesting. After all, our ancestors didn’t know the luxury of natural rubber or latex – sheep’s intestines or little linen sacks had to do the trick. Cum by and check it out (excuse the pun).
Torture… what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. And if you need more than a poor pop song reference to be convinced, the Torture Museum has got you covered. Here, various torture instruments are on display, plus a lot of backstory – for example, there’s plenty of info about the inglorious days of empress Maria Theresia when people still found themselves in the unfortunate situation of facing torture as the fastest interrogation method.
Hofmobiliendepot (Imperial Furniture Collection) does exactly what it says on the tin: In 1908, Emperor Franz Joseph commissioned a central storage facility for the state holdings of furniture. 16 years later, the first rooms of Hofmobiliendepot were furnished and opened to the public. And today, the place houses one of this planet’s most important collections of furniture. If you wanted to feel even worse about your soulless IKEA kitchen, this is the place to visit.
Fabulous hats from the olden days of Emperor Franz Joseph I. (so from around 1850 to 1895) are awaiting your visit in this museum. While some of the hats here are so rare and valuable they have to be kept behind glass, the team wants you to relive the traditions – and therefore will actively invite you to wear one of their fantastic hat creations. Then, you will be led into the wine cellar where you’ll not only eat and drink, but you’ll also learn a lot about Viennese customs that are almost forgotten nowadays. The Handkuss (kiss on the hand), for example.
Opening times MON–THU: 9am–6pm FRI: 9am–2pm SAT–SUN: closed
If you’re in Vienna or planning to come, there’s a good chance you like coffee. After all, our beautiful city is where the brown bean beverage has evolved into many variations. At Kaffeemuseum, you can find 50 years worth of collector’s love surrounding coffee culture – from (then) novelty machines, accessories and a lot of knowledge that might even tweak your own cup of coffee back home into something even tastier.
Opening times MON–WED: 10am–6pm THU: 9am–6pm FRI–SUN: 10am–6pm
Regular entry fee: 5.50€
Kapuzinergruft is where all Empresses and Emperors of the house Habsburg lie buried. In a way, the place spans across 400 years of Europe’s history. And it’s probably the closest you’ll ever be to a real Emperor. Unless that’s what you call your partner’s magic wand.
Opening times SUN–MON: from 8pm WED–THU: from 8pm (only when there’s no precipitation) TUE: closed
Regular entry fee: free, but donations are very welcome
Next to philately, there’s probably no calmer hobby than spending your time in an observatory. Kuffner Sternwarte has been around since 1884 and has been the temporary home to such big shots as Oppenheim, Eberhard, and Herz. (It’s absolutely natural to have sweaty palms right now, fanboy.) Here, you can indeed shoot for the sky – you’ll land among the stars either way.
They’re depicting lucid dreams, surreal landscapes, scenes from the old testament and generally very interesting subjects from a psychologist’s point of view. With the Phantastenmuseum, the beautiful Palais Palffy is home to a full-blown museum dedicated to the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. Around 150 exhibits are on display, made by both Austrian and international artists.
Housed in one of Vienna’s most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings, right behind the Albertina museum, the Schmetterlinghaus is a haven of peace and colour: Here, you can spend hours watching over 400 butterflies crowding the sky, gently flying past the waterfalls and exotic plants that where placed here especially for them. If you’re nice to them, they might even land on your arm, then whisper in your ear how much they like what you did with your hair.
No matter where you stand when it comes to the topic, the Museum for Contraception and Abortion is a valuable source dedicated to the history of limiting and controlling the amounts of pregnancies a woman experiences in her life. From laughable ideas – at least from today’s POV – to crude or simply crazy tools and applications, you’ll get an up close look into what methods did and didn’t work. And did you know that with all the thousands of years of us being around, the cycle of a woman’s fertility was discovered in 1930? We’ve come a long way.
Photos @ Museum für Verhütung und Schwangerschaftsabbruch
Opening times SUN: 10am–1pm every 1st and 3rd THU of the month: 7pm–9pm
If you rank among the people who relive their childhood near a circus ring, let out a pleasurable shout of joy when tigers do a handstand, and when clowns pretend to be clumsier than five drunk David Hasselhoffs, the Circus and Clown Museum is for you. If you’re like us, and Stephen King’s Pennywise has pretty much f**ked up all clown encounters for you, you better stay away from this place.