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The new programme of modern and contemporary art exhibitions began in 2012. It presents three different types of exhibition:

Guest curators

Beginning in 2012, renowned international artists are invited to select an exhibition of works from the Kunsthistorisches Museum's collections.

The familiar historical display of the museum will be temporarily disrupted, revealing unfamiliar aspects of familiar objects by altering their position and context. Such exhibitions will also serve to illuminate the artist's own work, and the thinking and decisions that lie behind it. A programme of educational events will accompany each exhibition.

Past exhibitions:

November 6, 2018 to April 28, 2019
Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures
Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf

October 11, 2016 to January 29, 2017
Edmund de Waal. Artist’s Choice

September 25 to December 2, 2012
Ed Ruscha. The Ancients Stole All Our Great Ideas

Modern Masters

In recent years, the museum has deepened its engagement with the art and artists of more recent times in order to explore their complex relationship with those historical collections.

A new programme of major exhibitions was initiated in 2013 with a survey exhibition of the painter Lucian Freud, conceived together with the artist before his death. The programme continued in 2015 with a retrospective exhibition of the boxes and collages of Joseph Cornell in conversation with the Kunstkammer, the first major show of this artist to have been staged in Europe for more than three decades. The exhibition of Mark Rothko in 2019  continued this dialogue.

Past exhibitions:

Mark Rothko (March 12 – June 30, 2019)

Joseph Cornell (October 20th, 2015 – January 10th, 2016)

Lucian Freud (October 8th, 2013 – January 12th, 2014)

The Theseus Temple

Once a year beginning in 2012, single works of contemporary art will be exhibited within the Theseus Temple, in the Volksgarten. The temple was built between 1819 and 1823 specifically to house a work of then-contemporary art: Antonio Canova's masterpiece Theseus Slaying the Centaur.

The sculpture was subsequently moved, in 1890, to the newly-completed Kunsthistorisches Museum, where it remains to this day on the museum's monumental staircase. Beginning in 2012, a series of focused exhibitions will return the building to its original purpose: to house remarkable works by contemporary artists, one at a time. A specific theme will connect each series of works presented at the Temple, both to each other and to the historical collections of Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Upcoming exhibition:
April 25 to October 6, 2019
Maurizio Cattelan

For all current information on our exhibitions of modern and contemporary art please visit our exhibition calendar.


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