Game on, Vienna

A fantastic exhibition at one of Vienna’s most renowned museums illustrates the importance of games in the Austrian capital.

“Spiele der Stadt. Glück, Gewinn und Zeitvertreib” – now on display at the Spielle der Stadt - www.wienmuseum.atWien Museum – documents the history of card and board games in the city. However, the exhibit also explains the role of billiards and chess. It explains that Vienna used to be one of the world’s capitals of chess. The exhibition does not fail to mention that socialist chess clubs separated from conservative ones before the left-wingers’ associations were banned by political officials in the 1930s.

Several sections of the exhibit are dedicated to kids’ games of former times and today. “Spiele der Stadt” also describes how children used to play between destroyed buildings after World War Two before the city’s socialist leaders set up playgrounds in every district. In the 1970s, celebrated architects were asked to design playground equipment. Photographs of these impressive creations are on display at the Wien Museum. Most of the climbing frames and slides were removed a few years on due to more stringent safety regulations – and lawmakers’ failure to ensure their faultless condition.

“Spiele der Stadt” (visit http://www.wienmuseum.at for information concerning opening times and ticket prices) documents how the Nazis’ abused the power of games for their vicious propaganda. The exhibition also features paintings depicting people playing various games – and a wall of dozens of photographs showing Viennese betting shops to highlight their dismal presence.

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