Jun. 2005 - Nov. 2005

blue - Inventing the River Danube

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Nordbahn-Bridge.Right-hand bridge opening of the river bridge, Vienna, 9. April 1875

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Oscar Kramer
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Faits divers, 2005

© Sophie Ristelhueber
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Faits divers, 2005

© Sophie Ristelhueber

15. June - 27. November 2005

 

The Danube only turned blue during the Paris World's Fair of 1867. In the spring of that year, Johann Strauss took his new waltz tune to the French capital. On May 28, "On the beautiful blue Danube" was performed at a grand ball, with Emperor Napoleon III. and his wife Eugénie among the guests. "Le beau Danube bleu" was received with huge enthusiasm and the waltz became a worldwide success. 

The exhibition sets off with references to the myths of the "beautiful blue Danube" but then moves on to present different, much less known views of the river. It chronicles the technological reinvention of the Danube from the middle of the 19th century. It documents - with the help of numerous historical models, objects and pictures - the massive construction projects that were to shape the "new Danube", tells us about dredgers and ships, shipyards and bridges, ports and power stations but also about the people and places, the cities and towns that were to change with the river.
Starting in Vienna, the journey takes us two thousand kilometres east along the river, to the Black Sea. Every once in a while, the journey is interrupted for shorter or longer excursions ashore. In Vienna we learn how the river was given a new bed and how the city became the City on the Danube. In Budapest, we visit the small island of Óbuda, where, for one and a half centuries, the DDSG operated its largest shipyard. On the border between Serbia and Romania, the journey takes us through the Iron Gate. We find out how this once infamous passage of the river was blasted and dredged to form a modern waterway. After 1,950 kilometres the journey ends in the Danube delta. 

Europe's second-largest river presently flows through or borders on ten different countries. More than 80 million people live in its catchment area, many of them in the new member states of the European Union. Soon the EU will stretch as far as the Black Sea. Will the river then, the exhibition asks in conclusion, once again change its face? Will the Danube once more become a major East-West passage?

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