Austria’s little city of Krems an der Donau would merit a stop in any event, with its pastel-hued old center that still feels authentic, rather than touristy. Recently, it unveiled a new cultural ensemble called the Kunstmeile Krems, or Art Mile, which extends out from the old city’s gate. On our recent visit to the Krems and Wachau valleys, we took a day to explore some of its venues, and I left feeling quite impressed with what Krems has created. The Kunstmeile would be a feather in the cap of a city 10 times as large.
The Kunstmeile’s showpiece is the new Landesgalerie Niederösterreich (State Gallery of Lower Austria). A sort of torqued cube clad in zinc scales, the museum cuts a striking profile against old Krems and the green hills beyond. The architecture firm Marte.Marte designed the remarkable structure, dedicated to exhibiting Austrian art. I especially enjoyed an exhibition of works assembled by the important art collector Franz Hauer, which included major pieces by Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, as well as the lesser-known Albin Egger-Lienz, whose captivating paintings were new to me.
We also stopped in the Karikaturmuseum (Caricature Museum), a new jagged-roofed building dedicated to satire, comics and cartoons. The retro-futuristic exhibition we saw, Race to the Moon: The Fantastic World of Science Fiction, included numerous charming examples of vintage comics.