Wed, 08.03.2017–Sun, 28.05.2017

MAK Works on Paper Room

Ensuing from the English Arts & Crafts Movement, Viennese artists also advocated the redesign of book covers around 1900. Great strides were made in this area by the Wiener Werkstätte (1903–1932) under the designers Koloman Moser (1868–1918) and Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956). The artists’ endeavors were supported by Carl (Karl) Beitel (1866–1917), who was known in Vienna to be a superb bookbinder and who, as a master, oversaw the Wiener Werkstätte’s bookbinding atelier from May 1904.

The first books were bound in marbled paper made by the workshop itself. At the same time, both Moser and Hoffmann designed book covers in leather. Mostly kid leather (morocco) was used for this purpose, either with a heavier, more granular texture or with a smooth surface. Occasionally crocodile, snake, frog, lizard, and undulate ray skins or fabrics were also used.

Among the richly decorated or simply designed bindings, the prevailing design principle was geometrization. The leather stamps available at the workshops provided the means to combine a wide range of highly diverse shapes. Parallel lines, squares, rhombuses, ellipses, circles, ovals, spirals, tendrils, as well as stylized leaves, flowers, and fruits were the favored motifs to cover the bindings entirely or feature on them as a single decorative element. Sometimes the design of the book cover took into account the book’s content, with the external style making reference to the internal storyline.

As the 1910s drew to an end, the motifs used for book cover designs became more playful and opulent—female artists in particular created hand-painted, partly embossed or stamped bindings. From 1924 Hoffmann used wave profiles for his book covers; somewhat later, profiled, geometric wooden grids were applied, which were then covered in leather.

Although it may seem surprising from a modern-day perspective that bibliophiles in the past could be so dissatisfied with publisher’s editions that they would actually commission artists to design new book covers for their purchases, in the first third of the 20th century that was an entirely common practice. Indeed, over 300 book covers were designed at the Wiener Werkstätte between 1904 and 1929.

With the aid of the objects from private collections—particularly the Ernst Ploil and Richard Grubman Collections—as well as from the MAK Collection that are on display in the exhibition BOOK COVERS OF THE WIENER WERKSTÄTTE, it is possible to demonstrate the tremendous abundance of ideas and the diverse craft techniques that are so characteristic of the book covers of the Wiener Werkstätte.

Guest Curator: Ernst Ploil
Curators: Elisabeth Schmuttermeier, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive; Maria-Luise Jesch, Assistance, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive

Curator-Guided Tours

Tue, 14.3.2017, 6.30 p.m.
with Ernst Ploil, Guest Curator
Tue, 4.4.2017, 6.30 p.m.
with Maria-Luise Jesch, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive

Tue, 16.5.2017, 6.30 p.m.
with Elisabeth Schmuttermeier, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive


Wed, 19.04.2017, 3.00 pm Please register
Book Covers of the Wiener Werkstätte
Tour through the exhibition, followed by further discussion at the restaurant Salonplafond.


Workshop for the whole family (ages 4 and older)
Attendance fee: € 4,50 per child
Reduced admission for accompanying adults
Sat, 22.04.2017, 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm Please register
Clothes for Books—Let’s Dress up Books!
Over 100 years ago, it was the fashion to design and package books. Miniature works of art were created, which were first drafted on paper and then realized using leather, paper and cardboard. MINI MAK has created a worksheet with which you can design your own museum booklet.
Sat, 27.05.2017, 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm Please register
Toad, Frog, and Snake: What have they got to do with MINI MAK?
Over 100 years ago, endangered species weren’t protected, so people could use those animals’ skins—for bags, belts, and even book covers. Who can find out quickest where those skins were used in the exhibition BOOK COVERS OF THE WIENER WERKSTÄTTE? Then we’ll work together to design a cover for your favorite book— in an animal-friendly way. 

For their generous support we would like to thank
Richard Grubman
Ernst Ploil

Opening Hours

Tue 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
Wed–Sun 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Mon closed
Free Admission on
Tuesdays 6–10 p.m.


€ 9,90 / reduced € 7,50
Free admission for children and teens under 19

Free Admission on
Tuesdays 6–10 p.m.
Family ticket € 13
(two adults and at least one minor child up to 14)

Vienna 1900-Combined Ticket
€ 17,90 / reduced € 14,50
valid for MAK and Leopold Museum

Guided Tours

MAK TOURS – every Saturday at 11 a.m. a tour through the MAK in German; every Sunday at noon in English.

Attendance fee € 3,50 per person, except children up to 6 and holders of  “Hunger auf Kunst und Kultur-Pass”

Special and Group Tours

by advance booking
Gabriele Fabiankowitsch, Head of Educational Program and Guided Tours
T +43 1 711 36-298
(Mon–Fri 10 a.m.–4 p.m.),


Multimedia Guide

for Vienna 1900: € 2

Or download the app for free to your own tablet (iOS and Android)!

Barrier Free Access

Lift at the entrance at Weiskirchnerstraße 3, accessible toilets for disabled visitors.


Permanent Collection

MAK Permanent Collection
Vienna 1900

Design / Arts and Crafts 1890-1938

MAK Permanent Collection Vienna 1900

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MAK Collection


Wiener Werkstätte Archive

Curator: Elisabeth Schmuttermeier
The Wiener Werkstätte (WW, 1903–1932) left a lasting mark on the history of product development and even today its output continues to be a significant influence for architects and designers. Apart from numerous objects from WW-production, since 1955 the MAK holds its archive that provides illustration of the production process of the products made in the Werkstätte, and also clarifies their identification and specifications.
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