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Society and Business Museum Vienna - Life in Vienna before and now

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

Join us for a visit to the Viennese Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum to hear how Vienna has lived since WWI.

Following the extreme devastation after WWI, the Viennese had to rethink their life. In order to address the terrible housing shortage, architects and designers wanted to create a whole new world with tight connection between the people, the architects and building societies with the political classes. One of the results was the the Society and Business Museum that was established in 1924 on the ruins of the earlier Museum for Settlement and Town Planning.

As one of the most remarkable outcomes, the museum developed the Vienna Method (defined in Wikipedia as follows: "a method of showing social, technological, biological, and historical connections in pictorial form consisting of a set of standardized and abstracted pictorial symbols to represent social-scientific data with specific guidelines on how to combine the identical figures using serial repetition"). At this time Vienna and its Method was the home of one of the most significant developments in graphic design producing informational material which was understandable regardless of the language skills of the onlooker.

The original museum did not last but but nine years with the Nazis closing it in 1934. Reopened after the war, the museum presents today social and economic facts and development in Austria.

The permanent exhibition covers a hundred years of life in Vienna from the time of the monarchy through the war years to the present day. The permanent collection focuses on many aspects of society, such as parliamentarism, financial education, labour market, public services, distributive injustice, conscious consumption, energy transition and digital transformation.

There is a visitors’ café at the reception but its services are pretty limited so after checking the permanent and temporary exhibitions you might wish to continue to a local café or restaurant in the vicinity - a lovely choice of Turkish and Asian is available in the neighbourhood.

The museum shop at the reception has some interesting reading for the true enthusiasts of economic and social development but buy your gifts to the kids of your cousins elsewhere. Check also the free books available a few steps down the staircase and the desks around the museum - hugely interesting if economics is your thing.

The museum is barrier free other than a few steps at the main door. There is a lift to the first and second floors and the exhibition areas are all barrier free. There are barrier free loos in the ground floor.

The museum is compact and you can easily fit it in your busy programme although it is located a bit off the main tourist area in the centre. If you have a few extra moments, do not forget to check the Coffee Museum in the same premises.

Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum

Vogelsanggasse 36, 1050 Wien


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