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Holidays in Austria. Reinventing a Tourist Destination

Exhibition at the Alma Rosé Plateau of the House of Austrian History, Heldenplatz square, Vienna
14 March 2024 to 6 January 2025

What do the memories of a holiday taken 70 years ago tell us about Austria today? How did Austria become a “tourism nation”? When Austria reinvented itself after the end of Nazi rule and the Second World War, the idea of it as a holiday destination played an important role. War-damaged Austria marketed itself abroad as an idyllic location and affordable place to go on holiday. This also shaped how people in Austria saw themselves.
Taking two unique photo albums belonging to a British couple from the 1950s as its starting point, the new hdgö special exhibition “Holidays in Austria. Reinventing a Tourist Destination” explores this little-told history and traces the idea of Austria as an aspiring tourist destination back to its roots. With a wealth of surprising objects, it gives a strong sense of the continued resonance of this early phase of the tourist industry today. Discover where present-day clichés and images of Austria came from and how they have changed over time.

More on the exhibition here

Catalogue on the exhibition/Ausstellungskatalog:

Holidays in Austria. Ein Urlaubsland erfindet sich neu. Reinventing a Holiday Destination. Ed. by Monika Sommer, Stefan Benedik, Antonia Heidl. Wien 2024. 148 p.

Keine Leerstellen mehr: Zwölf Objekte von den autochthonen österreichischen Volksgruppen

Seit exakt 175 Jahren sind die Rechte der verschiedenen Volksgruppen am Gebiet der heutigen Republik Österreich als Teil der Verfassung besonders geschützt. Trotzdem erhält die Geschichte und Gegenwart von Minderheiten bis heute viel zu wenig Aufmerksamkeit – auch im Haus der Geschichte Österreich. Als ersten Schritt in eine andere Richtung haben wir im Museum gemeinsam mit den Vertreter*innen der Volksgruppen jeweils zwei Objekte ausgewählt, die davon erzählen, wie sehr die sechs anerkannten Minderheiten (Kroat*innen, Rom*nija, Slowak*innen, Slowen*innen, Tschech*innen und Ungar*innen) Österreich geprägt haben.

Mehr unter: https://hdgoe.at/category/keine_leerstellen_mehr

My Voice Means Something. Ukrainian Women on the War.

With the exhibition "My Voice Means Something". Ukrainian women on the War, the Museum of Women's and Gender History Kharkiv makes visible how women from Ukraine deal with the current war. In the foyer of the House of Austrian History, twelve women from Ukraine take the space to speak about their individual experiences and agency during the war. The presentation puts at the centre memorable quotes from the women's stories and photos taken by themselves. A QR code links to the full story – with texts to read and listen to. The exhibition at the House of Austrian History is based on the project “HERstory of the War” by Tetiana Isaieva, director of the Museum of Women's and Gender History Kharkiv, who has fled to Austria. She has temporarily relocated her museum from the heavily destroyed second largest city in Ukraine to the online realm.

The selection of stories presented at the hdgö was jointly curated by Tetiana Isaieva (Museum of Women's and Gender History Kharkiv), Natalija Jakubova, Stefan Benedik (hdgö) and Antonia Heidl (hdgö).

Hitler entsorgen. Vom Keller ins Museum / Disposing of Hitler. Out of the Cellar, Into the Museum

Exhibition and catalogue, House of Austrian History, 2021–22

What should we do with the remnants of Nazism? Should we dispose of them? Is it acceptable to sell them at a flea market or on the internet? At what point does memory become nostalgia, or even illegal neo-Nazi activity?

Objects related to Nazism get discovered in various places and contexts – whether in one’s own basement, at flea markets or an online portal, in the estate of relatives or even in the trash. Even if one’s own family history is not entangled with the Nazi regime, such finds trigger feelings ranging from shame to detachment and even fascination. The exhibition “Disposing of Hitler. Out of the Cellar, Into the Museum” asks about the social responsibility in dealing with relics of Nazism and explores the question of how these things can strengthen democratic consciousness in the present.

Monika Sommer with Stefan Benedik, Louise Beckershaus, Markus Fösl, Laura Langeder and Eva Meran (eds.): Disposing of Hitler. Out of the Cellar, Into the Museum. Vienna 2021, 160 p.

Ein deutschsprachiger Beitrag aus dem Katalog steht hier kostenfrei zur Verfügung. Read an English version of the curatorial reflection on this exhibition here.

Find more information on the catalogue here and on the exhibition on the museum's website.

Heimat großer T*chter. Zeit für neue Denkmäler / Toppling Gender Norms. Time for New Monuments.

Toppling Gender Norms. Time for New Monuments

Exhibition in the House of Austrian History from 22 October, 2021 to March 13, 2022

How did a telephone call help women* become equal partners in marriage? Why did the “Vienna Underwear War” change the way we look at advertising? How does a passport help put a stop to unnecessary medical procedures on intersex children? Whose offices had to be occupied to achieve rights for people with disabilities? And what role does chalk play in the fight against sexual harassment? 

Through these little-known examples, this exhibition in the House of Austrian History highlights the strategies that can change gendered power relations. The exhibition “Toppling Gender Norms” tells ten stories of people who did not accept seemingly fixed categories, who fought for progress, and who toppled clichés from their pedestals. Their dissent and their commitment have shaped our present day—and opened up discussion on what gender can mean tomorrow. 

The museum is also making space online for lots of other famous and lesser-known women* pioneers, rebels and role-models in a digital exhibition called “space for heroic women”. Discover them now! 

curated by Stefan Benedik and Marianna Nenning


Monika Sommer, Stefan Benedik und Marianna Nenning: Heimat großer T*chter. Zeit für neue Denkmäler. Toppling Gender Norms. Time for New Monuments. Wien/Vienna 2022, 100 p.

Europe of Dictatorships/Europa der Diktaturen

Die Web-Ausstellung „Europa der Diktaturen“ bietet eine völlig neue und interaktive Übersicht über den gesamten Kontinent von 1914 bis zum Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs. Zahlreiche Details zu jedem einzelnen Staat machen dabei die unterschiedlichen Ideologien erstmals im Detail vergleichbar – von Plänen zum radikalen Umsturz der Gesellschaft, über Eroberung, Geschlechterpolitik bis hin zur Beschränkung der Pressefreiheit. Mit der Web-Ausstellung können nicht nur die großen Staaten untersucht werden, sondern alle von der Türkei bis Großbritannien und Portugal bis zu Sowjetunion. Erzählt wird dabei auch die Geschichte vieler unabhängiger Staaten, die praktisch vergessen sind, etwa Mittellitauen und Fiume oder die multiethnischen Stadt-Staaten von Danzig und Triest. Der Fokus der Web-Ausstellung betritt Neuland, indem er es erlaubt, tatsächlich alle Diktaturen nebeneinander und gleichzeitig zu betrachten.

Mehr: https://diktaturen.hdgoe.at

Reviewing 1945: Eleven new perspectives

This exhibition is the first joint presentation of the House of Austrian History and the ten state museums of Austria and South Tyrol
It provides new insights into the end of the Second World War. At this time, the territory of present-day Austria faced extremes: while in some places Nazi rule continued a reign of terror, elsewhere processes of democratisation were initiated. Eleven extraordinary objects open up new perspectives on the last days of Nazi terror, the founding of the Second Republic and the long-term impact of these contradictory times.

Visit the exhibition at https://1945.hdgoe.at/

In Between: Photographs of Spring and Summer 1945

75 years after the end of Nazi rule, this digital exhibition examines the ways in which contemporaries visualised their experiences at the time. Photographs of such events are never neutral: At the end of the war, it was important for many Austrians to prove their status as victims – so they constantly emphasised the destruction and scarcity they suffered. By contrast, the occupying powers initially wanted to draw attention to their own prowess during the war, going on to show how quickly they managed to create order and normality. Some of these photographs are voyeuristic. They make use of the fascination that war exerts as an extreme situation. For example, military offensives were repeated for the camera and scenes of triumph re-enacted.

Have a look at the exhibition here.