Lange Nacht der Museen!  This past Saturday was Vienna’s annual “Long Night of the Museums,” where over 100 Vienna museums kept their doors open until 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. A single admission ticket was good for any and all of the museums, as well as regular public transportation and the special “Long Night” bus lines that moved the expected 200,000 people directly between museums. The weather on Saturday could not have been nicer, either, so all 200,000 museum goers were out in force.

Of course we had a plan. I primed the family early in the week to be ready to leave the house in time to buy our tickets, grab street food for dinner, and be waiting at the Vienna Opera House for the tour. No problems accomplishing the first two requests: the city even pulled out its vintage trams (and vintage ticket takers!) to promote the event.

To my great disappointment, however, the Vienna State Opera House was not open for tours; the museum of the Opera House was open, but that didn’t interest us. So off to the Albertina we went, where the museum had been transformed into the medieval days of Emperor Ferdinand. 

 Jack had his fortune told…

…And by the time we emerged twilight was upon us. 

 From the Albertina pavilion we had a most enchanting view of the Opera House.

 See how enchanted the children are?

The one-price-for-all ticket gave us the opportunity visit museums that we might not otherwise. On our way to the Hofburg Palace we passed the Fantasy Art Museum. We thought it meant Lord of the Rings kind of fantasy, but with few exceptions the art really seemed more like soft core porn.

 We thought the evening lights at the Hofburg lent a far more fantastical air than the museum.

Feeling a little bummed, we walked by Demel in the hopes that we could tour the Imperial Bakery. Demel had E-ticket-ride-at-Disney style lines, so we regrouped over coffee and a WeinerWurfel at the Meinl am Graben.

Arms and Armor received the most votes for the next museum to see, inside the gorgeously lit NeueBurg Palace (National Library)

Our curiosity was piqued by the Museum of Chimney Sweepers and its exhibition on the American Indian. Housed in the 4th District Museum, this exhibit turned out to be one of the more interesting of the evening.

Believe it or not, this was a rare moment when the museum was empty! Half of the museum is devoted to the history of chimney sweeping in Vienna, while the other half is devoted to the cult fanclub of a series of “Westerns” filmed in Austria in the 1960s that were (or still are?) hugely popular.  Who knew?

This is St. Florian, patron saint of chimney sweepers. He is not being hanged; rather, that was an oddly placed security thread.
There was more!  On the first floor of the museum, which we had blown by in our haste to see the American Indian exhibit, was one of the city’s public bath houses, now converted to an art gallery.  The wonders of the evening seemed like they would never end!

And more!  The 4th district is home to the Naschmarkt, the city’s oldest market, and the museum had a well done historical perspective on the market.  Note this 1912 photo of the dog (with its muzzle!) walking through the market. How progressive.

From the chimney sweep/American Indian museum we raced to catch the tour of the Treasury of the Teutonic Order near Stephansdom, but were too late to be included. All’s well that ends well, though, for we eeked into the Roman Museum at 10:30, in time to tour some unearthed remains of Vindobona, the ancient Roman garrison of Vienna. Way cool, and now we’re inspired to see more Roman ruins that lie just outside the city over the children’s upcoming fall break.

Our last stop was supposed to be Schlumberger, the sparkling wine cellars that run beneath most of the 19th district, but we ran out of energy to wait for the final tour of the evening, at midnight.  Instead, we caught the second-to-last tram home and tumbled into bed in the early hours of Sunday morning.  Until next year!