Vienna to celebrate 150th anniversary of World Fair in 2023

Vienna will welcome the Visions & New Beginnings – 150 Years of the World Fair in 2023, with numerous exhibitions taking place at famous Viennese museums, spectacular new openings and long-awaited reopening. Vision & New Beginnings will be celebrating the city’s past, present and future.

The 1873 World’s Fair was the event that kick-started the city’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, such as the First Vienna Mountain Spring Pipeline that brought crystal-clear spring water to the capital or the construction of 6 rail stations and lines turning the Austrian capital as the hub of Central European rail travel.

Vienna’s tourism industry also took off. New hotels, such as the Imperial and today’s Palais Hansen Kempinski – as well as restaurants and cafés, such as Landtmann – opened on the Ringstrasse boulevard. Vienna also increasingly established itself as a venue for international congresses. In field of culture, the period saw the emergence of many museums and exhibitions. Traditional handicrafts also flourished with manufacturers such as J. & L. Lobmeyr (crystal glass) and Jarosinski & Vaugoin (silversmiths) showcasing 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.

Vienna to celebrate 150th anniversary of World Fair in 2023
© Hotel Imperial

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 urban development projects such as Seestadt Aspern ot the reconstruction and creation of the city’s major train stations. Today, the city 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.

Weltmuseum: Austro-Japanese Friendship

All of this will be celebrated in 2023 under the banner of Visions & New Beginnings. 150 Years of the Vienna World’s Fair. Lots of the capital’s museums will in fact dedicate temporary exhibitions. Such as the Weltmuseum Vienna, which will set the ball rolling in January 2023: two of its exhibition halls will welcome exhibitions of the World’s Fair focusing on Japan and the Near, Middle and Far East.

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 way finding system that guides visitors through the building in the spirit of the world exhibition. Guided tours inspired by the World Fair and a special booklet on the anniversary year complete the picture.

Celebrating “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 in a time of industrialisation at a World’s Fair for the first time. A pioneering achievement in terms of raising awareness of female working environments.

Vienna to celebrate 150th anniversary of World Fair in 2023
J. & L. Lobmeyr crystals and chandeliers to be part of an exhibition at the MAK (Photo: © WienTourismus/Paul Bauer)

MAK: Orientalism and Dazzling Luxury

Starting on June 7, 2023, the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts will celebrate 200 years of J. & L. Lobmeyr, the traditional Viennese fine crystal glassmaker and specialist chandelier manufacturer, which was part of the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair. On June 21, 2023, another special exhibition “1873 VIENNA WORLD’S FAIR REVISITED” will be devoted to the interest for the Orient and the influence of its design on arts.

Vienna new planned attractions

New attractions are also in the pipeline. Panorama Vienna will bring during the spring time a great visual spectacle to the Prater. Based on a completely novel concept, the new attraction will show outsize works of art in the form of giant analog 360-degree panoramas inside a 32-meter-tall circular building. The new venue picks up on the tradition of the 1873 World’s Fair Rotunda – the largest domed structure in the world at the time, which got lost in a fire in 1937.

Vienna to celebrate 150th anniversary of World Fair in 2023
Vienna 1873 World Fair rotunda (© Wien Museum)

Vienna will also celebrate in December 2023 the reopening of Wien Museum 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.

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