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Museum for Applied Arts (Mak)

Museum for Applied Arts (Mak) (17)

The Vienna Museum für Angewandte Kunst, or Museum of Applied Arts, owes its unique appearance to a complete renovation that took place in 1986, when the design of its various rooms was entrusted to renowned contemporary artists.

The museum, which primarily focusses on design, offers visitors a tour of handcrafts and other industries relating to sectors such as textiles, porcelain, glass, silver and furniture from the Middle Ages to the present day. This combination makes the MAK an attractive space of contrasts in which, for example, Gothic and Romanesque antiques contrast with the modern facilities and contemporary art pieces that constitute the collection. 

Founded in 1864 as the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry, the exhibition space has remained true to its commitment to combine theory and practice, production and reproduction. In fact, in 1867 it was the origin of a pioneering school that produced artists the likes of Gustav Klimt. What is known as the School of Applied Arts, which featured among its professors renowned artists such as Oskar Kokoschka, became independent in 1970 and acquired university status. The MAK, meanwhile, remains faithful to its commitment to design and innovation.

For this reason visitors to the MAK will find everything from beautiful 16th-century carpets to the bentwood chairs designed by Michael Thonet in the 19th century and which are still found in some of the finest cafes in Vienna. Or you may prefer to contemplate models by the architect Frank Gehry, the famous Biedermeier sofa, or the stunning collections devoted to the decorative arts of the Far East. 

To gain an understanding of the evolution of interior decoration, visitors may enter the Hall of China, which is a reproduction of the Hall of China found in the 18th-century Dubsky palace in the Czech Republic.

If, in contrast, Modernism is your thing, you should approach the collection that features the legacy of the Wiener Werkstätte workshop which, headed by Josef Hoffmann and Kolo Moser during the first decades of the 20th century, produced exquisite pieces such as jewellery and ceramics, more often than not characterized by geometric patterns and simple lines.

The MAK, which also has an interesting library dedicated to applied art, also offers evening activities such as concerts, videos and fashion shows, thereby further establishing its reputation as a dynamic cultural centre. When planning your visit, you might be interested to know that admission is free on Saturdays, so make the best of the opportunity and drop in.

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