Whether it’s to visit an exhibition or for a class, the MAK has plenty to offer. A museum-cum-arts college, this famous building has been a feature of inner-ring architecture since the 19th century. The museum was first conceived in 1863, with plans based on the South Kensington Museum (which is now the V&A) in London. This is something I find remarkable about Viennese architecture: only a handful of buildings, such as the WUK on Währinger Straße, are red-brick in the Northern European style; the majority of Viennese buildings tend to be stuccoed in that familiar off-white and extravagantly ornamented, especially along the Ringstraße.
It is not the only reason I like the exterior of the MAK. First opened to the public in 1871, it was expanded in the early twentieth century, then partially rebuilt in the ’40s after damage sustained in the war. During the ’80s and ’90s the whole interior underwent restoration and was designed in order to reconfigure the exhibition space.
Surprisingly for a Viennese art museum, if you visit the MAK on a Tuesday, admission fees are waived. And, as I briefly mentioned in the introduction, this is no mere museum: MAK is a sanctuary for applied artists. There are many opportunities to study or even take evening courses here – aktzeichnen (life-drawing) for example. This class is very popular! Also, offers for furniture, Wohngemeinschaften (flatshares) and the like are pinned up regularly in the student space. The vibe is, thankfully, in no way stuffy or elitist.