Collection and Archive

Head: Sen. Sc. Mag. phil. Cosima Rainer
Collection Art, Architecture, Design: Director Cosima Rainer and Silvia Herkt
Collection Fashion and Textiles: Director Stefanie Kitzberger
University Archive: Director Silvia Herkt
Oskar Kokoschka Centre: Director Bernadette Reinhold
Victor Papanek Foundation: Director Alison J. Clarke

About us
The Art Collection and Archive serve as the cultural memory of the university. We record the history of the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts and the present activities of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, unravelling the issues that arise and communicating through exhibitions, publications, conferences, cooperative projects and a digital database. In addition to the Art, Architecture and Design and Fashion and Textiles departments, the institute encompasses the university archives, the Oskar Kokoschka Centre, and a foundation dedicated to designer Victor Papanek.
Although its contents extend back into the 19th century, the collection itself is surprisingly young. Former rector Oswald Oberhuber initiated its development from the existing documentation archive in 1979. Since then it has grown from 300 inventoried works to the current collection of over 65,000 works.
Right from the beginning in the 1980s, the art collection was dedicated to developments in modernism and the interweaving networks of prominent figures at the Imperial and Royal School of Arts and Crafts.
The former founding institution was in fact avant-garde on several counts. Their pioneering pedagogical concepts and design approaches were used later on in the preliminary courses of the Weimar Bauhaus, and their "modern interior design" that approached the entire exhibition space as a design issue was subsequently developed by artists of the Wiener Werkstätte. Enrollment was also open to female students at the Imperial and Royal School of Arts and Crafts since its foundation in 1867. Franz Čižek's "Ornamental Form" class, which was a think tank for young female artists, played an important role in this respect and evolved into what is known as "Viennese Kineticism". From its inception, the collection has sought to highlight these aspects via exhibitions, publications, presentations and discussions, a visitor oriented archive and a digital database.
Oswald Oberhuber, who founded the collection, was committed to a contemporary approach to history and encouraged alternative versions of aesthetic histories and a pluralisation of the art historical canon. He brought artists who were murdered or persecuted by the National Socialist regime in Austrian back into the spotlight. Through exhibitions and publications such as Die Vertreibung des Geistigen aus Österreich. Zur Kulturpolitik des Nationalsozialismus (The Ousting of the Intellectuals from Austria. On the Cultural Politics of National Socialism) (1986) and solo presentations of "forgotten" artists, he laid important cornerstones together with Erika Patka, who was head of the collection at the time.
The collection's great potential lies in its wealth of underrated or marginalised positions throughout art and design history. Critical examination of the artistic canon through counter-narratives and rediscoveries is therefore a key part of its program.
The dynamism and networks at an art school generate knowledge reservoirs that allow developments, stances, and groups from particular epochs to be mapped out and "preserved" in a different way than in museums. As a result, artists who were ignored through certain historical contexts or by public discourse can be fully rediscovered here. Through the knowledge of important artistic networks and the dedicated support of bequests and donations, the Art Collection and Archive also offer a plural corrective to the canon.
The collection currently comprises around 65,000 objects. Key areas of focus include Fred Adlmüller, Friedrich Berzeviczy-Pallavicini, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Josef Hoffmann, Gertrud Höchsmann, Oskar Kokoschka, Anton Kolig, Adele List, Bertold Löffler, Elly Niebuhr, Otto Niedermoser, Oswald Oberhuber, Victor Papanek, Franz Schuster, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, Peter Weibel, Emmy Zweybrück, Viennese Modernism and the Wiener Werkstätte, Viennese Kineticism, as well as applied and fine arts of the 20th century such as graphic art, posters and furniture design, textiles, photography, ceramics, painting, objects and Austrian modernist architectural models. The collections of the original School of Arts and Crafts and the artists Mileva Roller and Rosalia Rothansl also include rare garments.
The collection continues to grow. In 2004, Rector Gerald Bast integrated the Costume and Fashion Collection into the main collection and space issues were improved by Gerald Bast in 2015 through the addition of new storage rooms. Cataloguing of the Peter Weibel Archive began in 2020. Items from the collection are presented in various exhibitions, at the University Gallery at Heiligenkreuzerhof, as well as Austrian and international institutions through cooperation and on loan.

With the help of the archive and collection holdings, important publications on the history of the university could be compiled:

"Kunst und Lehre am Beginn der Moderne. Die Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule 1867-1918" edited by Gottfried Fliedl (1986) and "Kunst: Anspruch und Gegenstand. From the School of Applied Arts to the University of Applied Arts in Vienna 1918-1991." ed. by University of Applied Arts Vienna (1991) and "150 Years University of Applied Arts Vienna. Aesthetics of Change," ed. by Gerald Bast, Anja Seipenbusch-Hufschmied, and Patrick Werkner (2017).

Relaunch of our webpage

  • overview of the individual departments
  • current projects on the landing-page
  • insights into the individual collections
  • documentation of our exhibition history
  • discover our editions, publications and more!

Concept, Design & Code: