Vienna, at Leopold Museum 15 works hang crooked: it's a climate initiative

The Leopold Museum in Vienna hangs crooked 15 masterpieces by Klimt, Schiele, Courbet and other great artists: it's a climate initiative. The works have been turned as many degrees as the temperature would rise in the places depicted by the artists if we did not take climate action.

For the past several days, visitors to the Leopold Museum in Vienna have found a surprise in the museum: several works hanging crookedly. The museum had begun posting photos on its social media portraying the works, all views and landscapes, hanging in the unusual way, but without providing an explanation. Now, however, the institute has uncovered the cards: the world-famous landscape paintings were deliberately placed crooked to draw attention to the dramatic effects of global warming due to climate change. Because a permanent temperature rise of just a few degrees can drastically affect the quality of our lives.

Under the motto of the A Few Degrees More ( Will Turn the World into an Uncomfortable Place) alert campaign, the Leopold Museum, in collaboration with the Climate Change Center Austria (CCCA) climate research network, one of the leading authorities in the field of climate research in Austria, illustrates the sometimes catastrophic effects of a few more degrees of temperature on the environment. According to current calculations by scientists and climate experts, they ensure that the natural landscapes that were immortalized in the paintings of artists such as Gustave Courbet, Tina Blau, Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser and Egon Schiele more than a hundred years ago may soon disappear, at least in the form in which we have known them through their paintings. To that end, the world-famous landscape paintings in the collection have been tilted by exactly the degree that the temperature in the regions shown, such as the Attersee region, the foothills of the Alps or the Atlantic coast, could rise if far-reaching countermeasures are not taken in time.

The director of the Leopold Museum, Hans-Peter Wipplinger, is convinced that a wide variety of objects can be used to explain the consequences of climate change: “As an educational and mediating institution, addressing the most pressing problems of our society is a central concern for us at the Leopold Museum. Even the avant-garde artists were seismographers of their time and saw the state of the world and the individual in a visionary way. Art museums are places where people can experience the world through the filtered gaze of artists and engage with issues, ways of thinking and worldviews that may also be uncomfortable, challenging or provocative. Museums per se play a sustainable role in society by preserving and communicating cultural heritage for future generations. They see themselves as spaces for inspiration and reflection on our existence and have the potential to positively influence our future actions by raising awareness of social phenomena. With this in mind, we declare our solidarity with the efforts of the climate movement.”

In collaboration with the CCCA, a team of 12 renowned scientists from various disciplines, from meteorology to agricultural sciences to social sciences, determined the effects that global warming could have on the motifs depicted in the selected paintings in the coming decades. The basis for this is the specified possible number of degrees of temperature increase. In addition, the illustrated panels encourage people to take measures against these developments in their own spheres of life, as well as on a structural and policy level.

For CCCA board member and climate researcher Helga Kromp-Kolb, the campaign is an important contribution to making abstract data intuitively and clearly understandable and to putting people in a whole new context with an uncomfortable truth: “For decades,” she declares, “scientists have warned about the fact that global temperature increases of more than 1.5 degrees would have enormous consequences for humanity. But these data are elusive. We want to show what a difference a few more degrees can make. Seen globally, but also in our immediate surroundings - in the Alps, in the lake regions or in Vienna, which has been voted the most livable city in the world several times.”

“It has been proven,” adds Claudia Michl, CCCA office manager, “that mere knowledge transfer does not lead to the necessary level of action. Collaboration with artists and cultural institutions can, however, build bridges in this regard, as it offers more focused and provocative forms and opportunities for debate.”

The Leopold Museum wants to send a signal to our society with this curated intervention as part of the permanent presentation Vienna 1900. Dawn of Modernity. Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger emphasizes, "With A Few Degrees More, we want to make a constructive contribution proactively in the hope that other museums and galleries will join this movement by making their artistic and cultural treasures ambassadors for the climate."

The unusual idea for this campaign originated with creative agency Wien Nord Serviceplan. Its creative director Christian Hellinger explains the intervention’s claim: “Together with the Leopold Museum and our scientific partners, the climate experts of the CCCA, we generate awareness for greater climate awareness without producing a single poster or other printed material. The works by Egon Schiele or Tina Blau not only become symbols of an environment in trouble, but also function, supplemented by accompanying texts, as educational warning signs of climate change-and are thus more than just protest projection screens.”

The A Few Degrees More intervention will run through June 26. In parallel with the campaign, the Leopold Museum is offering free special tours of the 15 works in A Few Degrees More every Sunday at 2 p.m. and 10 free school tours, which can be booked at For information about the campaign and to see the works involved, you can visit the initiative’s website.

Vienna, at Leopold Museum 15 works hang crooked: it's a climate initiative
Vienna, at Leopold Museum 15 works hang crooked: it's a climate initiative

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