The museum’s history
“A different kind of museum”
The history of the first Austrian museum of labour begins with the Upper Austrian regional exhibition titled “Labour/Man/Machine. The path to an industrialised society” in 1987. Inspired by the “Dig where you stand” movement, it was envisaged as a museum of a different kind that would do more than just museumise labour. The declared goal was to enable people to experience the volatility of the future by shedding light on the historic forces of change.
When the regional exhibition was transformed to be shown in a permanent museum, the decision to take the path of a “museum in the making” was made. Instead of rigidly holding on to tried-and-tested methods, the institution was to interact with its surroundings in a flexible way. In this vein, temporary exhibitions were to constantly change the museum’s appearance.
Ever since, the museum has featured a widely varied programme, ranging from exhibitions about the history of technology to socio-historical and socio-political issues. The museum’s trademark, however, are its exhibitions dealing with contemporary Austrian history.
From 2020 back to the beginnings of the museum in 1987
WORK IS INVISIBLE / 2018 ‑2020
When we think of work, we mainly think of factories, offices, machines, tools, managers, computers, energy, raw materials, and people working. All those things are visible. But how, why, and with what feelings those people work, what challenges them and stresses them, what work gives and what it forces — that is invisible.
The exhibition narrates how the world of work has changed over the past 150 years — and how working people have reacted to that. It also provides an insight in what awaits us in the digital age. The retrospective should help to develop strategies for the future, and the outlook should help to identify limits. The exhibition shows stories of obstinacy, resistance, co-operation, and motivation, of team spirit, identity, and pride, but also of stress, fear, overburdening, and helplessness. All the above are the essence of work and are made visible for the first time in the new exhibition Work is invisible.
Curation: Harald Welzer (scientific director) & Robert Misik (editorial director)
Design: Gerhard Abel, Waltraud Ertl | Planet Architects / Christoph Mayer CHM / Katharina Höfler, Michael Atteneder | Atteneder Graphic Design / Angelika Höckner, Gerald Moser | Atelier Wunderkammer
AN INTERACTIVE ADVENTURE FOR LITTLE GLOBETROTTERS / 2017
Check in and experience HotelGlobal! Just step through the doors and embark on your journey around the globe:
Fresh strawberries all year round, the newest fashion every week and a digital news update every second: globalisation has many faces. The worldwide interconnectedness of labour and economy, however, is complex. The new participatory exhibition at the Museum Arbeitswelt invites children from age 7 and their families to go on an exciting journey of discovery, where they will gain insights into globalisation processes in a playful way. The exhibition’s central question is what a fairer world could look like and how we could contribute to realising this vision. Everyone is invited to join the discussion!
The exhibition is a production by Alice Museum for Children at the FEZ Berlin and the Edwin Scharff Museum Neu-Ulm in cooperation with ZOOM Children’s Museum Vienna and the FRida & freD Graz Children’s Museum.
From the certificate of poverty to the guaranteed minimum income
Who deserves to receive support? This question has been continuously discussed and answered in different ways for the last 150 years and has lost nothing of its urgency. It is also the focus of this exhibition.
It narrates how society has dealt with life risks such as disease, old age and unemployment. The journey back in time starts with the so-called “labourer issue” of the 19th century that initiated the introduction of a state-funded insurance system. The exhibition is based on the Upper Austrian special regional exhibition titled “Help”, which has been newly staged for presentation at the Museum Arbeitswelt.
Curators: Brigitte Kepplinger & Irene Dyk-Ploss
Desing: Gerhard Abel (Planet Architects)
Visual design: Gerald Lohninger
Forced labour under National Socialism / 2016
This international travelling exhibition was the first to offer a comprehensive narrative of the systematic exploitation under Nazi rule and its consequences. In Austria, it was on show exclusively at the Museum Arbeitswelt from 15 May to 18 December 2016.
An exhibition by the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation, initiated and sponsored by the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future”. www.ausstellung-zwangsarbeit.at
COME TO STAY – 50 Years of Labour Migration / 2016
A travelling exhibition on the history of labour migration in Austria, initiated by “migrare – Centre for Migrants in Upper Austria” and “Volkshilfe Refugee and Migrant Support Upper Austria”.
Curator: Michael John | Architecture & Design: Manfred Lindorfer and Gottfried Hattinger
Memories with a Future / 2015
A crowd-built exhibition:
Seventy years after the liberation of Steyr and the end of the Second World War, 100 project participants from various education institutions went on a cross-generational search for traces of memory. Their discoveries formed the exhibition titled “Memories with a Future”.
Idea, concept & implementation: Museum Arbeitswelt | Exhibition design: Erich Aufreiter (grafik.er:ich)
FROM BOOM TO CIVIL WAR. Steyr between 1914 and 1934 / 2014–2015
Special exhibition at the Museum Arbeitswelt on the social, political and economic development of Steyr from the outbreak of the First World War to the Austrian Civil War in February 1934.
Curator: Florian Wenninger | Architecture & Design: Manfred Lindorfer and Gottfried Hattinger
working_world.net – Working and Living in a Globalised World / 2006–2015
Permanent exhibition at the Museum Arbeitswelt on the present and future of labour and the consequences of globalisation on working, living and society.
Scientific lead: Josef Weidenholzer, JKU Linz | Design: Arno Grünberger, Spurwien
AT YOUR SERVICE – Art and the World of Labour / 2013
An exhibition by the Vienna Technical Museum and the ERSTE Foundation.
The Just – Courage Is Your Decision / 2013
An exhibition by the Austrian Friends of Yad VaShem.
Curated and designed by Michael John, Albert Lichtblau and Manfred Lindorfer.
- Another Type of Globalisation
Photo exhibition by Katharina Mouratidi, 2012
- Environment – Between Conflict and Cooperation
Special exhibition by Adelphi Research, Adelphi Consult and Weltformat Design, 2011
- Home Game : Away Game – Migration in Austrian Football
Special exhibition on the occasion of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, in cooperation with Fare and fairplay, 2010
- No Glitter and Glamour. Prostitution and the Trafficking of Women in Times of Globalisation
Travelling exhibition by Terre des Femmes – Human Rights for Women, 2010
- Images of Work and Life
Photographs and stories from 1900 to 1970, 2009
- Ferdinand Redtenbacher. Steyr’s Very Own “Leonardo”
Special exhibition on the occasion of the 200th birthday of the founder of scientific engineering, 2009
- Our Steyr Diary, Volume 2: Generations
Project exhibition in cooperation with the retirement and nursing home Steyr Münichholz and the Steyr Secondary School for Economic Professions, 2009
- Fanshop der Globalsierung
Sonderschau der deutschen Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, 2008
- Our Steyr Diary, Volume 1: Migration
Project exhibition in cooperation with eight Steyr-based schools and the Paraplü Centre for Integration, 2008
- ANTI-SOCIAL. Travelling exhibition Welfare State Austria
Travelling exhibition of the Working Community Youth against Violence and Racism, Graz, 2007
- The Austrian State Treaty Myth. Stories from History
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty and the 60th anniversary of the Second Republic, 2005
- The Persecution and Annihilation of European Jewry 1933–1945
Travelling exhibition of the House of the Wannsee Conference Educational and Memorial Site, Berlin, 2004
- The suitcase of Adele Kurzweil
Special exhibition of the Working Community Youth against Violence and Racism, Graz, 2003
Time-travelling to Europe, 2003
- Inventors. Patents. Austria
Technological developments and their inventors, 2002
- Women at work
Women. Labour. Society, 2002
- Faces of Islam
Photograph exhibition by Michael Obert, 2001
- Stefan Zweig
An Austrian from Europe, 2001
An exhibition against oblivion, 2000
- Bruno Kreisky
His times and more, 2000
- No One Is Born a Racist
- Anne Frank
A story for today, 1999
Period montages on labour and culture of the industrial region of Steyr, 1998
- Pictures of Humankind
Labour and leisure in the industrial age, 1997
- People as Special Waste
HIV and AIDS, 1996
The future of information society, 1995
- Family Chronicles
The history of five Jewish families, 1994
A history of the computer, 1993
- 500 Years of America
Discovery – Destruction – Defiance, 1992
100 years of Catholic social teachings, 1991
- Metal Lives
The history of metal workers, 1990
- Red in the Country
100 years of Austria’s Social Democrats in the countryside, 1989
- The Robots Are Coming
The future of the industrialised society, 1988
The path to an industrialised society, 1987