MUSA is situated in an office building owned by the City of Vienna. Constructed in 1916 as one of the first reinforced concrete structures, it was designed by August Kirstein, a disciple of Friedrich von Schmidt. Originally, its premises housed the Poor Relief Register, whose cashier’s counters and waiting hall were located in the current exhibition rooms. In 1921, the premises were adapted for Wiener öffentliche Küchen (Vienna Public Kitchens, WÖK) and retained their function as a WIGAST self-service restaurant into the 1990s.
MUSA took off in April 1991 with the exhibition Ins Licht gerückt. Ein Museum auf Abruf (Into the Limelight. A Museum on Demand), which was curated by Wolfgang Hilger and shown in the Volkshalle of Vienna City Hall. At the time, MUSA was planned as a flexible exhibition concept that could be presented anywhere and was available at any time. Originally conceived to showcase little-known Austrian art, the list of artists participating in the first exhibitions resembles a "who’s who" of the present-day established art scene.
The 300 square metre interior courtyard spanned by a cantilevered glass ceiling provides a central exhibition space for effective art presentation. Variable, module-style partitions that can be adapted to the individual projects as required create a wealth of ever-changing spatial situations for exhibitions and events.
With a total exhibition space of approx. 600 square metres, the City of Vienna meets its responsibility towards the visual arts and ensures the implementation of an ambitious programme that reflects the needs of local artists. MUSA also disposes of a fully equipped separate section for state-of-the-art artwork storage and conservation in the basement. The premises were adapted for their current purpose by the architectural studio Kiskan Kaufmann Architekten (www.kiskan.com).