Colorful tiles on the roof of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna

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Vienna Media News – December 2022 Visions & New Beginnings: Vienna Celebrates 150 Years of the World’s Fair

The 1873 World's Fair was the event that kick-started Vienna's rise as a truly global city in the 19th century. Vienna was growing rapidly, spreading beyond its historic confines thanks to the construction of the Ringstrasse. At the same time, foundations were laid that are still proving decisive for the high quality of life the city offers to this day: the inauguration of the First Vienna Mountain Spring Pipeline that brought crystal-clear spring water to the capital being just one of many examples. This technical masterpiece supplied Vienna with fresh drinking water from the Alps. And the construction of no fewer than six new stations and railway lines heralded a new dawn for the city as the hub of Central European rail travel. Public transportation and city tourism also took off. New hotels such as the Imperial and today’s Palais Hansen Kempinski – as well as restaurants and cafés such as Landtmann – went up on the Ringstrasse boulevard. And Vienna also increasingly established itself as a venue for international congresses. This Gründerzeit (literally “founders’ era”) period also saw the emergence of many museums and collections. Traditional handicrafts also flourished: still going strong to this day, manufacturers such as J. & L. Lobmeyr (crystal glass) and Jarosinski & Vaugoin (silversmiths) showcased their work at the World’s Fair. And the famous Strauss dynasty provided the perfect soundtrack for the masses. Vienna had reimagined itself,  with a new identity and spirit driven by forward-looking urban planning. Today, the city continues to reap the rewards of the achievements of that time.

History Repeating Itself

Modern Vienna finds itself in a similar environment. Since the turn of the millennium, the city has been growing at a rapid pace, with new – and internationally acclaimed – urban development projects such as Seestadt Aspern. All of Vienna's major train stations have also been rebuilt or fully renovated since the 2000s. To impressive effect: today, Vienna is the most important night train hub in the EU. Now, as in 1873, the city is experiencing an unprecedented hotel boom. The Austrian capital is also leading the way in Europe when it comes to congresses and meetings. These developments for the third millennium are on such a scale that many of them will still be serving the city 150 years from now. All of this will be celebrated in 2023 under the banner of Visions & New Beginnings. 150 Years of the Vienna World’s Fair. Countless activities and highlights centering on the milestone anniversary will take center stage in 1873.

Weltmuseum: Austro-Japanese Friendship

Lots of the capital’s museums will be dedicating temporary exhibitions to the World's Fair anniversary in 2023. First and foremost the Weltmuseum Vienna, which will set the ball rolling in January 2023: two of its exhibition halls will be given over to the World's Fair, which was all about Japan and the Near, Middle and Far East opening up to Europe. After all, the 1873 Vienna World's Fair was the first to feature Japan – and the first with notable contributions from Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, the Ottoman Empire and Persia. To coincide with the new exhibition, the Weltmuseum will be introducing a special wayfinding system that guides visitors through the building in the spirit of the world exhibition. Guided tours inspired by the Vienna World's Fair and a special booklet on the anniversary year complete the picture.

Vienna Museum of Technology: Women at Work.

On May 2, 2023, a temporary exhibition entitled Women at Work. 150 Years of the Women’s Pavilion at the Vienna World’s Fair will open at the Vienna Museum of Technology. The new show explores a special feature of the Vienna World's Fair: the Women's Pavilion, which gave female working environments their own space at a World's Fair for the first time. The pavilion showcased some of the female-led occupations that had emerged in the course of the great wave of industrialization in the 19th century. A pioneering achievement in terms of raising awareness of female working environments, the format was adopted by subsequent world’s fairs.

MAK: Orientalism and Dazzling Luxury

Starting on June 7, 2023, sparkle and glitter will be setting the aesthetic tone at the MAK - Museum of Applied Arts. J. & L. Lobmeyr – traditional Viennese fine crystal glassmaker and specialist chandelier manufacturer – was part of the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair. By coincidence, it too will be honoring a special anniversary in 2023: its bicentennial. As part of the GLITZ AND GLAMOR. 200 years of Lobmeyr celebrations, it will be showcasing its take on dazzling luxury through its unsurpassed Viennese handcraftsmanship.

On June 21, 2023, another special exhibition devoted to the 1873 World's Fair will launch at the MAK. The focus of new show 1873 VIENNA WORLD’S FAIR REVISITED. Egypt and Japan as Europe’s “Orient”, is the wider interest in all things Orient triggered by the landmark expo. Exotic worlds and the then-undiscovered design language that would go on to inspire the Western world will provide the focus.

Wien Museum: Grand Reopening

Vienna has a major reopening lined up for  December 2023 when the Wien Museum returns after a multi-year renovation and expansion project. Set to become an important meeting place on Karlsplatz once again, the Wien Museum will be back with highlights from a collection that in part predates the Vienna World’s Fair.

Prater: Reinstating the Rotunda

Panorama Vienna will bring a great visual spectacle to the Prater in spring 2023. Based on a completely novel concept, the new attraction will show outsize works of art in the form of giant analog 360-degree panoramas. To accommodate the vision, a 32-meter-tall circular building spanning around 100 meters across is currently under construction. Inside, various large-format panorama artworks will be put on display. This new exhibition venue picks up on the tradition of the rotunda buildings that once stood in the park. Rotundas were round buildings used to display assorted spectacles to the masses. The largest of all was the 1873 World's Fair Rotunda – the largest domed structure in the world at the time, it was lost in a fire in 1937. And in 2023 this time-honored Prater tradition will be reinstated.

Culinary Delights and Crystal Clear Water

2023 is also a milestone year for some of the capital’s most venerated cafés and restaurants, chief among them Café Landtmann which opened in 1873. One of the most famous coffeehouses in the city, it has lost nothing of its appeal to this day. 1873 was also a big year for former purveyor to the imperial court Gerstner: the company was selected to provide the catering at the Imperial Pavilion at the Vienna World's Fair and was awarded the coveted royal K. u. K. Hoflieferant warrant, elevating it to the elite rank of official supplier to the court.

Something else which is inextricably linked with Viennese hospitality is the Mountain Spring Pipeline, which has been bringing delicious, crisp drinking water to the capital from the Alps since 1873. In 2023, this marvel of modern engineering will be the focus of various celebrations: for example at the Vienna Water Festival on June 6 at the historic Favoritner Wasserturm watertower in the tenth district. And on October 24, 2023 – the day on which the Mountain Spring Pipeline was inaugurated – when a new Jubilee Fountain will be opened. Designed by internationally renowned Austrian artist group Gelatin, the impressive water feature has been allocated a special location: the Jubilee Fountain will take pride of place in the heart of the Sonnwendviertel, which is one of Vienna’s most important and spectacular urban development projects of the new millennium.

Luxury shopping, 1873-style

In 2023, a series of exclusive shopping experiences will have all eyes on Vienna’s world-famous arts and crafts. Besides J. & L. Lobmeyr’s glassware boutique on Kärntner Strasse, other venerable manufacturers with direct ties to the World’s Fair include fellow exhibitor A. E. Köchert. Among the stars of the Vienna World's Fair, in 1873 the acclaimed jeweler relocated to its current location on Neuer Markt, where it continues to take luxury to a new level. Just like custom footwear manufacturer Scheer, silversmiths Jarosinski & Vaugoin and piano maker Bösendorfer, all of which exhibited at the World's Fair and still offer their one-of-a-kind products in Vienna today.

Meeting Destination Vienna

Meeting Destination Vienna also benefited hugely from the World’s Fair and its impact on the world. In strange ways, too. For example, in the form of the World Soybean Research Congress, which will be held at the Austria Center Vienna (ACV) on June 18, 2023. The connection? It was the 1873 Vienna World's Fair that lit the touchpaper for the soybean’s eventual spread around the world when this special plant was brought to the capital by the Japanese delegation. The Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art will likewise be focusing on soybeans in 2023.

Visions & New Beginnings


Helena Steinhart
Media Relations
+43 1 211 14-364