Das Porzellanmuseum

MUSEUM

WHAT WILL INSPIRE YOU

A SECRET ART

300 YEARS OF VIENNA PORCELAIN

The AUGARTEN PORCELAIN MUSEUM celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2021. Since the extensive renovation of the small pleasure palace built in 1705 in the former imperial Augarten, the museum, which opened in 2011, can look back on a whole series of successful special exhibitions. To celebrate this anniversary year, we would like to remind you of the most popular exhibitions in retrospect. Stay tuned! 

Discover special pieces of Vienna porcelain and archive finds in our museum and here on our pages. See the familiar with new eyes. Read about the history of Viennese porcelain since 1718. We show you the past and future of a fascinating material with rare objects and their stories. 

Porcelain can do much more than just serve as a cup, jug or plate. It is a witness to the attitude to life and the culture of its time. Porcelain was present when the intimacy of everyday life was lived and world history was written.

The centrepiece of the AUGARTEN PORCELAIN MUSEUM is the imposing historic kiln, which was in operation until the 1960s. Today, the venerable relic serves as an exhibition space. Original exhibits from more than 300 years of Viennese porcelain history can be admired in the museum on two levels in a permanent exhibition as well as in changing special exhibitions.

Get to know the Arcanum, the once top-secret recipe for porcelain made of kaolin, feldspar and quartz. These ingredients combine in the fire of the kiln to form the most sensitive material in the history of design.

The porcelain paste can be finely and easily modelled, but it must survive 1900 degrees in the kiln to then surprise with its very specific properties. With its shine, its consistent colours and much more.

From the origins of porcelain production 2000 years ago in China to the founding of the first Viennese manufactory under Claudius Innocentius du Paquier in 1718 to today's artistic production, the Porcelain Museum uses original objects to tell the multifaceted story of Viennese porcelain.

A particularly dynamic and brilliant era unfolded from 1784 under the enlightened baron and court counsellor Conrad von Sorgenthal as director of the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory. He succeeded in combining the high artistic standards of classicism with economically successful management. He also established social security and professional training for his employees.

The manufactory oriented itself towards the standards of the academy and engaged professors for the in-house schools of painting and sculpture. Competitions were held among the artists to invent new forms and decorations. The painter and chemist Joseph Leithner created new colours, glazes and, in 1793, a new recipe for preparing gold. With its finely shimmering ornaments of gold relief, built up in layers with a brush, the Viennese manufactory was able to secure an outstanding reputation among the great manufactories of Europe: "The perfection of gilding, according to the unanimous judgement of all connoisseurs, cannot be found at any other factory". 

Arabesques and grotesques, as decorative elements copied from the admired antiquity, were considered funny and whimsical towards the end of the 18th century. They were to be used only for pleasurable places, such as dining rooms. 

In the spirit of the Wiener Werkstätte and the Art Déco, a multitude of figures and services were created by renowned artists for the new Viennese porcelain manufactory Augarten, founded in 1923: Michael Powolny, Vally Wieselthier, Mathilde Jaksch, Otto Prutscher, Josef Hoffmann, Ena Rottenberg, Hilde Jesser and Federico von Berzeviczy-Pallavicini are the best known among them.

There was great enthusiasm about the possibility of producing porcelain in the venerable Viennese tradition and yet resolutely committed to the present.  For "in this immensely docile substance," as one reads in the press of the time, "all musical sensitivity and the most delicate harmony of colour could come to life." Josef Hoffmann aptly described the demands on the new porcelain design: "Our time feels completely fresh and modern."

A rare and exciting discovery in the Augarten archives are six previously unpublished sheets with designs for different tea services by Josef Hoffmann from around 1950. The variations in their playful details make the creative process visible. In addition to artistic designs, the museum's archive also includes a historical photo collection as well as colour and decoration samples from the Augarten porcelain manufactory. 

After the horrors and tragedy of the Second World War, whose memorials are preserved in the park in the form of two flak towers, the break with the immediate past called for renewal that was to fill all areas of life. The arts led the way, but the young interior design also strove for the clear expression of a different, new era. For the porcelain manufactory, this meant taking up the bold aesthetics of the 1920s with a focus on the present.

To this day, the creativity and inspiration of architecture, the fine arts, crafts, fashion and design continues to contribute to innovative designs of form and decoration. The changing lifestyle of the 21st century also confronts porcelain, as a traditional element of table culture, with new tasks and questions.

The amazing process of porcelain production can also be experienced  on a guided tour of the manufactory at Augarten. With the experience of many generations, genuine Viennese porcelain is produced here on site by hand, with time and dedication.

The AUGARTEN PORCELAIN MUSEUM tells stories of art and society, but also of the individuals who have been making, collecting, using or viewing porcelain for centuries. The sensuality of the extraordinary and glamorous material porcelain is to be conveyed as well as its cultural and artistic significance.

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