Brennpunkt° - Collection

  1. Fire creates heat
  2. The well-tempered city
  3. Planet of the fire makers
  4. The art of heating
  5. Café Mustapha
  6. Beautiful stoves
  7. Nice and cosy
  8. Dripping and sizzling
  9. Smoking heads
  10. Clean oh so clean
  11. A look ahead

1. Fire creates heat

View into the red exhibition room.

There are different ways of heating your home - you can go it alone if you are self-sufficient, or connect to district heat or similar complex systems.


2. The well-tempered city

Red exhibition room with lettering on the floor saying "The well-tempered city"

The city is responsible for heating and cooling living space. But public facilities also need to be well-tempered at all times: schools, municipal offices, hospitals, public pools and abattoirs too! Some like it cool, others hot, some all the time, others at certain times only. Proper heat supply can be a real challenge.


3. Planet of the fire makers

Orange coloured wall with exhibits in glass cases.

Fire serves us in many different ways. It gives heat and light, and it makes food tasty, digestible and durable. It is used to process raw materials. There is a map of the world on the wall to show how fire is created in different parts of the globe and which methods are employed in the course. While methods to create fire vary from culture to culture those to maintain and use it are far less specific.


4. The art of heating

Orange exhibition room featuring big furnace.

Heating is an art. The less energy is available, the more important it is to master this art. Heating an office building, a school or even a hospital requires sound knowledge of fuels, material properties, types of heat and operation of large boiler plants.


5. Café Mustapha

Green and yellow exhibition room with chairs and a stove.

There is a lot of poetry in heating too. Just remember a specific stove or heating apparatus in a particular room, the effort it took to get it going, the curious sounds, smells, colours or light effects you encountered then. Heating appliances blend into and become one with their environment over time.


6. Beautiful stoves

Several stoves in a row, displayed in a green room.

Stove manufacturers in the late 19th century took great pains to turn their stoves into beautifully shaped and colourful pieces of furniture. Fine iron casting helped them to produce filigree decorations and small parts in great numbers.


7. Nice and cosy

Exhibition room with carpets and stoves.

What was cosy then may not be so now. In the old days room temperatures between 16 and 18 degrees were not unusual. Many rooms were not heated at all. Today most of us enjoy the comfort of central heating, yet there is nothing like an open fireplace or tiled stove to give us that extra cosy pleasure.


8. Dripping and sizzling

Blue exhibition room with sitz bath.

Bathrooms and kitchens in their role as wet units have gone through considerable changes over the past century and have a lot to look forward to yet.

Separate bathrooms are the most recent additions to our homes. For centuries people contented themselves with large tubs in their rooms to bathe in.

The hearth by comparison has been the hottest spot in the home since time immemorial. It was the place to be if you were looking for warmth. Hearths in the old days required a lot of space. Built-in kitchen stoves as we know them today only appeared in the 20th century, as gas and electricity became available and people were better able to handle heat.

9. Smoking heads

Antiquated schoolroom with desks and black board.

Heads too need their operating temperature. Schools today make sure it is set properly. Not so in the old days. Some schools would heat their classrooms one at a time. In times of hardship they had to cut back on coal. Still, many children were warmer at school than they were at home. Occasionally pupils were made to help with the heating.


10. Clean oh so clean

Historic laundry equipment.

Doing the laundry used to be a tremendous effort so people would often get together on special days for these chores. Or they left them to the professionals, the so-called laundrettes and their famous washerwomen.

Along came chemistry and life and washing were made just a little bit easier. More than 150 years ago laundry detergents were invented that could bleach, clean and soften the water at the same time. Wringing and spinning still had to be done manually, however, and remained as tedious a task as before. The first washing machines provided modest relief only. It took many developments to perfect them and come up with the washing machines we know today. Not until the 1960ies did they become lighter in weight and more affordable and the laundry was done at home instead of in the washhouse.

11. A look ahead

Blue exhibition showcase

Price increases, global warming, scarcity of resources: the future of energy is on everyone’s lips. While pessimism abounds plenty of ideas and projects give rise to hope. Old and new energy technologies, in any event, will be on the road together for some time yet.

Contact for this page:
City of Vienna | Brennpunkt° - Vienna's Museum of Heating Customs
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