The Prutscher collection of Viennese children's books at the Braidense National Library

The Prutscher collection of Viennese children's books at the Braidense National Library
The Prutscher collection of Viennese children's books at the Braidense National Library

Until 15 April 2023, the Sala Maria Teresa hosts the collection of illustrations that belonged to the Viennese architect and designer. It's not just for children, because it offers an immersion in a period of great artistic and cultural ferment that animated Vienna before the Second World War

143 books, 13 leporelli (the stories drawn on a single strip of paper folded on itself like an accordion) and 178 postcards of Vienna in the early twentieth century are carefully placed in a large trunk of the time and put on the train that leaves the "city of dreams” in 1938, which at that time was experiencing the decline of an empire that would be annexed to Nazi Germany. Those small publications, which belonged to the designer Otto Prutscher, a member of the most important artistic and craft movements of the early twentieth century, from the Viennese Secession to the Werkbund, and of daughters Helly and Ilse, are donated by the architect's niece Beba Restelli to the Braidense National Library, where they are the protagonists of the exhibition entitled A golden thread (1900-1938) - The Prutscher collection of Viennese children's books open until April 15, 2023.

Organized by James M. Bradburne, architect and museologist general manager of the Pinacoteca di Brera and the adjoining Braidense National Library, and with the support of the co-curator Lara Verena Bellenghi, the exhibition develops on the two sides of the Maria Theresa Room, a suggestive place, kingdom and house of books, dominated by wonderful Bohemian crystal chandeliers.

The editorial production on display also tells the Viennese historical and artistic context of the period. «At the time Vienna was experiencing an extremely flourishing moment for art and culture. It was the period of debates between artists and intellectuals in the many literary cafés. Polyglot, a center of intellectual sophistication, philosophical subtlety and political idealism, the city of dreams was cosmopolitan and avant-garde», explains James M. Bradburne. The collection also brings out Otto Prutscher's fascination for the Orient, the polyglot context in which he lived and his versatility as a product, interior and book designer. He was a multifaceted artist, master cabinetmaker, architect who obtained the qualification of "master mason" ... therefore not pigeonholable into a single current. For this reason, another central golden thread throughout the exhibition is the playful spirit that characterizes both the collector and his entourage of artists and intellectuals.

On the occasion of the exhibition, four workshops for children will be held by the donor Beba Restelli and four dedicated meetings held by the Libri Finti Clandestini collective which will take place between February and April 2023. There is also a book that offers a vast collection of images taken from the exhibition itinerary: A golden thread. The Prutscher Collection of Viennese children's books 1900-1938 edited by James M. Bradburne of Corraini editions. The volume is part of the series that the International Center for Research on Childhood Culture (CIRCI) launched in 2021 with the volume dedicated to the Adler Collection of Soviet children's books.

francesca marotta


Francesca Marotta: giornalista di moda e beauty, curiosa, sognatrice, anticonformista. Amo l’Italia, l’arte, le esperienze, gli stili di vita, il design... da wow!