The Arnulf Rainer Museum unites an architectural jewel with the work of the internationally acclaimed contemporary artist.
The clearly delineated structure of the building of the Frauenbad from 1821 – which is located on the site of the former Frauenkriche – is based on a design by Charles de Moreau, one of the leading architects of French classicism. After bathing stopped at the site in 1973 the building changed use, to become a national exhibition centre. The opening exhibition in autumn 1977 was an Arnulf Rainer retrospective.
In 2006 the decision was made to dedicate the exhibition centre as a museum to Arnulf Rainer, who was born in Baden. The Arnulf Rainer Museum, outfitted to the highest technological and aesthetic standards, was opened in 2009.
- 2009 – todayArnulf Rainer Museum
Arnulf Rainer's motto, ‘create new from old’ has been implemented structurally in the former Frauenbad by the team of Vienna architects Lottersberger-Messner-Dumpelnik, without touching the substance of the characteristic structure. The renovation work was completed in September 2009 and the Arnulf Rainer Museum opened with the exhibition ‘Aller Anfang ist schwer. Frühe Arbeiten 1949-1961.’
The Arnulf Rainer Museum is a successful combination of the fabric of the historic and the new structure, which not only reawakens the charm of the former baths but also accommodates the up-to-date technological and functional requirements of a modern museum building.
In collaboration with the region of Lower Austria the city dedicates this institution to the artist, to exhibit his multifaceted oeuvre in outstanding monographic and thematic exhibitions. This allows Arnulf Rainer's work, which plays a central role in the collections of the most important international museums, to be conveyed in all its diversity to both a regional and an international audience through exhibitions, events and publications.
- 1977 – 2005International Exhibition Centre
In the early 1970s the wellness centre and a new indoor swimming pool were built. As a condition of the loan they needed, the municipality of Baden had to take over the maintenance of the old baths building. This led to Franzensbad becoming a Lobmeyr glass studio, Josefsbad a café and Frauenbad becoming an international exhibition centre. The first exhibition was held in autumn 1977 and was dedicated to Arnulf Rainer.
The rooms, however, were soon no longer adequate for the demands of an exhibition space. Therefore in 1991, the decision was taken to have the structure thoroughly redeveloped. The redevelopment followed the plans produced by the architect Werner Nedoschill in late October 1994. Since the renovation, the international exhibition space at Frauenbad has been host to works by Rudolf Hausner, Wolfgang Hutter, Arnulf Neuwirth, Robert Zeppel-Sperl, Adolf Frohner, Leo Zogmayer, Walter Vopava, Carry Hauser, Josef Mikl, Hermann Nitsch, Erich Steininger, Ernst Fuchs, Christian Ludwig Attersee, Arik Brauer and the Gugging Artists. Glass and textile art, photography, theatre and landscape painting have also found a place among the exhibitions.
- 1821 – 1973Frauenbad
The architect Charles Ritter von Moreau and the Baden municipal architect Anton Hantl were responsible for the design of the new bath house, ‘Frauenbad’. Moreau was also responsible, among others, for Dianabad and Palais Palffy in Wallnerstraße, as well as the former k.k. Nationalbank in Herrengasse in Vienna. Hantl constructed the town hall and Weilburg, Baden's most important buildings of the nineteenth century.
Architecture of that period emphasised utility, austerity and a return to a certain simplicity of structure, as well as a lack of decoration.
The foundation stone was laid by Archduke Anton of Austria on 17 April 1821, and the opening ceremony for the newly built ‘Frauenbad’ was on 12 June. The stone from that ceremony is now located in the foyer of the Arnulf Rainer Museum.
Half a century after the opening of the Frauenbad, the building's systems and the decoration of the rooms were no longer state of the art, and so in 1877 a redevelopment was begun. In keeping with the impressive character of the building, a large room was included in the design, located at the centre of the building (today the Spiegelsaal) and the pools were clad in marble panels.
The structure then went almost 100 years without alteration, in service as a modern bathing facility.
- 1297 – 1820Frauenkirche and its Baths
Baden was already known under the Romans by the name ‘Aquae’, for its hot springs and their health-giving properties. There was even a sulphur spring under the high alter of the Frauenkirche (also called Frauenkapelle), built in the thirteenth century, which supplied two bath houses on the north and south sides of the church: the ‘Frauenbad’ and the ‘Neubad’. The first recorded mention of the two bath houses – at that time located on the property of Archduke Albrecht II – goes back to 1357.
As reparations for the damage caused by the Siege of Vienna of 1529, Ferdinand I gave ‘Frauenbad’ and ’Neubad’ to the city of Baden. Under Joseph II and his church reforms, Frauenkirche was abolished as a place of worship in 1787, and sold by the Augustinians a short time later to the city of Baden, which used it to store timber. The two bath houses, ‘Frauenbad’ and ‘Neubad’ remained intact.
There were always plans to unite the two separate bath houses, which were different from each other in the very different group of users each attracted. However, the city of Baden was unable to implement this plan until the nineteenth century, due to lack of funds.
The demolition of Frauenkirche in 1811 and the fire at Baden in 1812 robbed the bath houses of their main structural support, leaving them as ruins in danger of collapse. Baden still didn't have the funds necessary to renovate them, leaving them a forlorn sight within the city. Finally, after several delays, in 1820 demolition work of the two old baths – and construction of the new building was at last begun.