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Projects / Exhibitions / Literature Museum

Project: Literaturmuseum

Client: ÷ster. Nationalbibliothek und ÷ster. Staatsarchiv

Location: Vienna

Designer: BWM Architects + PLANET Architects

Graphics: Perndl + Co

Curator: Bernhard Fetz + Team

The former k.u.k. Hofkammerarchiv in Vienna, an original fully Biedermeier-period building and one of the few in Austria, was redesigned by BWM Architects together with PLANET Architects and Perndl + Co into a new Museum for Austrian Literature. The Museum showcases Austrian writing from the 18th century to the present day.

The pronounced Biedermeier features of the former Archive were the starting point for the considerations of the adaptation and transformation of the building into the new Literature Museum. The archival interior of the listed-building was retained, not only visually, but integrated into the architectural-exhibition concept with display objects installed into the wooden shelving units.

“Let the Building do the Talking” becomes the motto for dealing with the atmospheric, unique, and original fixtures in the building,

the running wooden shelf-system, which fills the floors in tight rows. The monolinear structure is broken with minimal and well-targeted interventions that allow for different and dynamic visitor routing through the space.

On the second floor is the former office of the Austrian writer and dramatist Franz Grillparzer, who headed the Hofkammerarchiv as its Director till 1856. This room is open to the public as " Grillparzer Room”.

Interior and Exhibition Design

BWM and PLANET Architects developed for this challenging situation a set of components that can variably integrate into the existing structure. This module system includes displays for posters and pictures, vitrines, light boxes, as well as book-like elements which combine the old character of the Archive and its new purpose as the Literature Museum.

The exhibition tour begins in the Grillparzer Room, and weaves a loose chronological path through the Archives’ two floors.
The curatorial concept provides a chronological tour through the exhibition, with thematic highlights scattered throughout the timeline. The representation of time-specific objects and displays on literature is repeatedly interrupted by current themes that address central questions of Austrian identity and history.

By carefully removing specific shelf areas, surprising spatial extensions emerge. This “Kabinettršume” have seating areas that provide a chance to relax, or peruse the media guide for more information on the content of the exhibition.

The third floor of the building is for changing exhibitions that start in 2016.