The building at Stubenring 5 was completed in 1871, after 3 years of construction. MAK was then known as the Museum of Arts and Industry for the 1873 World’s Fair hosted by Vienna. Over the past 150 years, its values have changed little; exceptional art works and design continue to be shown and collected here. Exhibitions extend through different departments, each distinguished by their associated material: glass, textile, pottery, wood/furniture, etc. MAK remains dynamic by staying connected – ideologically as well as physically – to the University of Applied Arts Vienna and its students, who take part in the development of the museum.
The MAK is currently hosting several different exhibitions, ranging from porcelain, to carpets, to the development of furniture in Vienna around 1900, to the reinstallation of the MAK’s permanent collection of Asian art encompassing Chinese, Japanese, and Korean art. The interior installation for this exhibit was done by Tadashi Kawamata, one of the top contemporary artists in Asia and Europe. His installation for the Asian collection at MAK plays with light and shadow, reflecting his experience as a photographer and sculptor based between Tokyo and Paris. The setting can sometimes feels quite rough, with delicate artefacts and fragile sculptures placed inside large glass and wooden display cases, their descriptions written by hand directly onto the glass. Dragons and other symbolic representations decorate the space. The installation conveys a deep sense of respect and honour for these artefacts, some over 500 years old, that have come from distant lands.
A glass vitrine serves double function as a display case featuring pottery and a window into the porcelain room, creating a link to the exhibition next door. The MAK strives to be a platform in which design, architecture and contemporary art all interact while incorporating fresh ideas and using various media.
The MAK Design Lab is one such project that brings new ideas to life. Visitors have the opportunity to discover connections between art and everyday life, possibly becoming more than just visitors by sharing their experiences and influencing MAK Design Lab’s direction. Visitors are encouraged to understand the complexity of design and the difficulty in creating a link between various elements by posing questions about luxury, design, art, and products for the future. Truly, this is applied art at its finest.
Header image: STADTBEKANNT Mautner