The museum’s history

“A dif­fer­ent kind of museum”

The 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



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 

/ 2017

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”.

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 (

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
2014–2015 – 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
  • Migra­tion
    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
  • Auschwitz
    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
  • Red-hot/Ashen-pale
    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
  • Net­work
    The future of infor­ma­tion soci­ety, 1995
  • Fam­i­ly Chron­i­cles
    The his­to­ry of five Jew­ish fam­i­lies, 1994
  • Info
    A his­to­ry of the com­put­er, 1993
  • 500 Years of Amer­i­ca
    Dis­cov­ery – Destruc­tion – Defi­ance, 1992
  • Zeit-Gerecht
    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
  • Labour/Man/Machine
    The path to an indus­tri­alised soci­ety, 1987