When its really hot outside and you’re in possession of a 17 month old fair haired toddler then where else better to visit than a big cool museum with long corridors, a big garden with stones you can pick up, that does rather good coffee and sandwiches, features Josef Frank textiles in the resturant, and rather a lot of beautiful objects to look at.
MAK is Vienna’s Victoria and Albert Museum featuring craft, applied arts and architectural objects from across the centuries. But the way they display it is really unusual. For instance a gallery of oriental statues were displayed on higgledy piggldy planks which formed a scaffold like structure around the glass cases, over the walk ways and were used as plinths.
A room full of carpets were displayed as if you’d come across a flying carpet race, hoisted up in the air and at perilous angles which meant you could truly appreciate their size and scale.
There were traditional displays of objects in cabinets, in dim lighting to protect them from deterioration. Huge tassels, carpet designs, block prints and screen prints, wallpaper samples and hefty but elegant furniture.
I particularly liked the colour composition in this Batik work by Hedwig Maille-Lesigang from 1925.
MAK have a fantastic online archive which you can trawl for rather superior photographs of their collection. The execution of skill in many of the objects and items on display was stunning and it was great to see some really vivid colour use in bygone eras.
In addition to their historic collections, MAK also had a display on newer technologies and design inventions including 3D printing, recycling innovations and unique re-displays of familiar objects as well as more ordinary but world changing inventions such as bakerlite buttons.
A rather lovely display of table wear through the ages showed the changes in style of ceramics including some quite wonderful painted animals that very much entertained Freddie. It is quite refreshing to see things that might be described as niknaks and clutter being displayed in glass cases.
We also got to try out the first fitted kitchen design, the Frankfurt kitchen, a design created by architect Magarete Schutte-Lihotzky for a social housing project. Everything was designed so that it was in easy reach and utilised the space a much as possible. Freddie loved it. But was told off for playing with it. Despite the signs saying please touch! Poor toddlers. They really are not catered for by the Viennese Museum establishment.
After the touch-not-touch kitchen we came to a display of woven textiles from the Biedermeier era (similar to the Victorian era in UK) when the Jacquard loom was introduced, the first kind of digital textile printer in many ways.
Finally we came to a display on Josef Frank’s textiles and wallcoverings, book decoration and printing and a rather lovely way to display jewellery. I really enjoyed visiting MAK. I would definitely like to return for a further visit but shall make do for now with the brilliant online archive.