Prof. Francesco Carelli

The Viennese Leopold Museum is tilting 15 selected paintings by Klimt, Schiele and other artists to raise awareness for climate change.
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Vienna’s iconic museum, CCCA and Wien Nord Serviceplan
Numerous works of renowned artists are hanging tilted on the walls of the Leopold Museum in Vienna and have caused quite a stir. The museum reveals: the world-famous landscape paintings were intentionally put at an angle to represent the drastic effects of global warming due to climate change and how nature is thrown off balance by it. Because a permanent increase in temperature by only a few degrees can reduce our quality of life on earth significantly.

Under the ominous campaign motto A Few Degrees More (Will Turn the World into an Uncomfortable Place) the Leopold Museum ¬– in partnership with the climate research network CCCA (Climate Change Centre Austria), one of the nation’s leading institutions in the field of climatology and climate effect research – illustrates the sometimes catastrophic consequences that an increase in temperature by only a few degrees Celsius can have for the environment. According to current calculations of scientists and climate experts, such an increase could cause natural landscapes such as those captured more than a hundred years ago by artists such as Gustave Courbet, Tina Blau, Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser or Egon Schiele to vanish soon. To raise awareness for this impending climate crisis, these noted paintings in the museum’s collection are tilted by exactly the amount of degrees that prognostics predict temperatures to rise in the depicted landscapes such as the picturesque region of lake Attersee, the Alps or the Atlantic coast if significant counter measures are not taken in time.
Hans-Peter Wipplinger, director of the Leopold Museum, is convinced that a variety of displayed objects in the museum can enlighten visitors about the impact of climate change: “As an educational institution that conveys ideas, the confrontation with the most pressing problems of our society is a central task of the Leopold Museum. The artists of the Avantgarde were seismographers of their times as well and examined the human condition and the state of the world in a visionary way. Art museums are places in which people can experience the world through the filtered lens of an artist’s vision and where they confront themselves with topics, ways of thinking and world views that can at times be inconvenient, challenging or provocative. Museums fulfill per se a sustainable role in society by conserving cultural heritage for future generations and by teaching about it. They regard themselves as spaces of inspiration and reflection about our being and thus have the potential to positively impact our future actions by making societal phenomena more visible. In that sense, we declare ourselves in solidarity with the goals of the climate movement.”

In cooperation with the CCCA, a team of 12 renowned scientists of different faculties – from meteorology to agricultural and social studies – calculated the effects that global warming will have on the painted sceneries in the upcoming decades. The basis for these scenarios were the prognosed amounts of degrees of the rise in temperatures. Additionally, the specially mounted labels next to the paintings encourage visitors to make a change in their own lives as well as to support measures taken on a political or structural level against these concerning developments.