In 2003, Graz was named European capital of culture, resulting in a welcome revival in the city’s art scene, which included the opening of the Kunsthaus, the architecturally unique museum known affectionately by locals as ‘the friendly alien’. From the classical artwork inside the Eggenberg Palace to a outdoor sculpture park, here is our pick of the top galleries to check out in Graz.
Located in the glorious setting of the Eggenberg Castle – a spectacular site with beautifully manicured gardens and roaming peacocks – the Alte Galerie contains an immense collection, featuring work from the Medieval times to the Baroque period. The gallery pays tribute to history’s saints, heroes and sinners and is a great opportunity to learn about Austria’s colourful history. Guided tours are available.
Alte Galerie, Eggenberger Allee 90, 8020, Graz, Austria, +43 0316 801 79770
Affectionately dubbed ‘the friendly alien’ by locals, Kunsthaus Graz is a both a masterpiece of innovative design, commissioned to celebrate the city being named as European ‘Capital of Culture’ and one of Austria’s finest modern art galleries. Collaboratively designed by British architects, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, this singular structure has 1,066 acrylic elements in its ‘skin’, and is a distinctive landmark of the city. The Kunsthaus exhibits Austrian and international contemporary art shows, and the views from inside the building are truly spectacular.
Kunsthaus Graz, Lendkai 1 Graz, Austria, +43 316 8017 9200
The Diocese museum contains an incredible exhibition of relics and religious treasures, with special shows staged two or three times per year, along with educational programmes for children. The displays allows you to investigate the church’s history and better understand its evolution. Additionally, special events including reading sessions, lectures, themed walks and festivals are available throughout the year.
Diözesanmuseum, Bürgergasse 2 Graz, Austria, +43 316 8041 890
This newly renovated building makes a great home for contemporary art, especially since it is not only the artwork that is important here, but also the environment in which it is placed. The setting seems to breathe life into the art. Here, you can also participate in the creation of art: the series of ‘An Art Day’s Night’ on Thursdays provides interactive evenings with artist talks, lectures and performances, helping us to understand the art on display that much better.
Künstlerhaus, Burgring 2 Graz, Austria, +43 316 7400 84
A huge variety of art can be found at the Neue gallery, with important collections from the Biedermeier period, Jugendstil style and Expressionism. The gallery’s mission is to help everyone navigate their way through the seemingly confusing randomness of contemporary art. Among the many celebrated names whose work you can enjoy here are Klimt and Vasarely, and it is a proud heritage that many of these top artists had their own exhibitions right here, well before they became famous.
Graz sculpture park
Wandering through these gardens, located just four miles outside Graz, you will find twisted metal and surrealist shapes of lurid colour emerging from the ordinary landscape. Marrying nature and art harmoniously, the Austrian Sculpture Park makes for a wonderfully dreamlike day out, and will introduce you to the work of some of Austria’s most prominent modern artists, including Fritz Wotruba and Franz West, Erwin Wurm, Heimo Zobernig and Michael Kienze.