Small things

Photo of Vienna Museumsquartier courtyard filled with large tent

It’s a small thing but …

Art-Austria has set-up a huge tent in the MuseumsQuartier (MQ) courtyard for a three-day art show exhibiting Austrian paintings and art. So far, so good. But …

Why here? The MQ courtyard is one of the most beloved open spaces in Vienna. It’s packed all year round. The tent takes up most of it. And, although the event only lasts three days, set-up began a week earlier and take-down added another day or two, so the courtyard is occupied for almost two weeks in mid-summer when we’re all itching to be outdoors post Covid.

Vienna Museumsquartier on a pleasant summer day

MuseumsQuartier is one of Vienna’s most pleasant outdoor spaces.

Sure, it makes sense to have an art show in the middle of several wonderful art galleries, but were there no other options?

How about in front of the MQ? While this is also popular open space it’s less used because of unpleasantness caused by traffic flowing by on the Museumsstrasse.

How about in an existing building? It’s not as if Vienna doesn’t have any perfect indoor spaces for an art show. Especially now with hotels and conference facilities empty due to Covid.

Furthermore, tent needs to be heavily air conditioned to protect the art – wasting much more energy than an existing building.

And the air conditioning ruins the remaining courtyard with noise, blowing hot air, and perhaps particulates (are they diesel generators?).

Think about this in connection with society’s goal of creating more sustainable and livable cities, and you’re left scratching your head.

MQ Vienna courtyard summer 2021

MuseumsQuartier setting for “Who rules the dance floor?” contest 31 July 2021.

So, yes, the Art-Austria tent is a small thing, perhaps someone balanced the negative environmental and urban livability issues against the benefits, but maybe not – and that’s the problem: many small things add up to an uninhabitable world.

UPDATE: On July 31 the MQ hosted Who rules the dance floor? … look at how much better this event suits the space than the Art-Austria mega-tent. There’s nothing wrong with having events in the MQ courtyard, they should just be more sensitive to the environment and setting.

Andy Nash

June 18, 2021


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