Culture in Linz

Since the 1980s Linz has transformed itself from the “steel city“ to the “city of work and culture”. Its cultural offerings are numerous, diverse and exciting and the city makes them accessible to as many people as possible. 

Four cultural political guidelines were formulated in the new cultural development plan of the city: promoting equal opportunities, promoting the development of potentials, enhancing accessibility and opening the city. “Culture for everybody“ is the motto, whereby the focus is on openness and tolerance. That means that there is a broad range of cultural offerings that not only includes traditional means of expression, but rather comprises all areas of human interaction. In Linz diversity is a driving force for the future of culture. 

The aim of “culture for everybody“ is to offer something that is of interest to every inhabitant of the city, something with which everybody can identify. The aim is to strengthen cultural consciousness by means of dialog and cooperation between different cultures in our urban society. The further qualitative development of the cultural work of the districts of the city has therefore been a focal point of the city’s cultural policies for more than two decades now. 

In 2009 Linz was "European Capital of Culture". On the occasion of this major cultural event many cultural institutions were established or extensively altered. For example the Museum of the Future, known as the Ars Electronica Center, was enlarged, the former Salt Office of the emperor was converted into a building with artists’ studios, the Pöstlingberg Railroad was extended up to the Main Square and the southern tract of the Castle Museum was rebuilt.

In the spring of 2013 the new music theater was opened in the Volksgarten. In 2014 Linz was designated a UNESCO City of Media Arts and again attracted international attention. Internationally Linz is especially known for events such as the Bruckner Festival, the Cloud of Sound and the Ars Electronica Festival, a festival for art, technology and society.

A large number of other festivals and events enrich the artistic life in Linz and its surroundings. Linz promotes “culture for everybody“. It aims to enable the entire populace to participate in the cultural life of Linz. 

Linz hosts a number of superb and internationally renowned festivals. One of Europe’s biggest street performance festivals is the annual Pflasterspektakel, which takes place in July. For three days, about 500 artists from about 30 nations turn the historic downtown of Linz into a vibrant setting for international street art. The festival draws more than 200,000 visitors every year – nearly as many people as the city has residents.

Another event popular in Linz and beyond is the annual Klangwolke (“sound cloud”). Since 1979 it has been filling the area round the Donau with sound and visual effects, created by using the latest technologies. For the younger audience, the Kinderklangwolke (“children’s sound cloud) has been initiated, in which children can actively take part. Equally since 1979, the Ars Electronica festival stands for interdisciplinarity and the open encounter of international experts from art and science under the banner of technological change. From 1990 (the year of the city’s 500th anniversary) until 2008, the annual Linzfest offered a three days’ programme of live concerts, literature, theatre, cabaret, etc. It was replaced by the biennial Stream festival, which has since been focusing on digital as well as analog music and art. Another biennial event is the Festival 4020. It dedicates itself to folk- and concert music from various regions of the world, from the past as well as the present. Numerous other festivals like the Crossing Europe Film Festival, LIDO Sounds festival, the Brucknerfest, and NEXTCOMIC – to name just a few – enhance the city’s cultural life.

The digital event schedule Linztermine offers a detailed overview of cultural life in Linz.


The city’s museums offer an opportunity to actively address the past as well as current and future trends. Topics range from history, science and technology to contemporary art and media art. Common to all museums is a deeply committed communication of art for all age groups.

Numerous galleries and off-spaces enliven the city’s art scene with exhibitions and projects of contemporary art. In addition to focusing on local artists, connections with international artists are strongly being favored.

Ars Electronica Center – Museum of the Future
Ars-Electronica-Straße 1, 4040 Linz
The Ars Electronica Center, which opened its doors in 1996, is the prototype of a “Museum of the Future”. It addresses a large public with its interactive exhibits, virtual reality, digital networks and modern media and deals with topics on the interface between media art, new technologies and societal developments in an innovative fashion.

Lentos Art Museum Linz
Ernst-Koref-Promenade 1, 4020 Linz
The Lentos Art Museum was opened in 2003 and is the successor to the New Galery of the City of Linz. With its international collection it is among the most important modern art museums in Austria. As far as classical modern art is concerned it has major paintings ranging from Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka and Corinth to Pechstein. All told it has about 1,500 paintings, sculptures and works of object art, about 10,000 works of art on paper and 1,200 photographs. Temporary exhibitions on current artistic developments round out the program.

Nordico Stadtmuseum Linz
Dametzstraße 23, 4020 Linz
The major functions of the Nordico include collecting, keeping and doing research on works of art from Linz as well as on archeological and historical objects relating to the history of the city. A main focus is the extensive collection of drawings and print graphics. As a city museum the Nordico is an important place for the presentation of contemporary artists of Linz. Exhibitions on the history and archeology of the city are also frequently held there.

Valie Export Center 

Based on the VALIE EXPORT archive, acquired by the city of Linz in 2015, LENTOS Kunstmuseum and Kunstuniversität Linz cooperate in an international research center for media- and performance art: the VALIE EXPORT Center Linz.

Museen des Landes OÖ in Linz (Upper Austrian State Museums)

One of the most important collections of art history and folklife studies is located in the Schlossmuseum Linz. The world’s largest collection of works by Alfred Kubin is housed in the Landesgalerie Upper Austria. The O.K Offenes Kulturhaus Upper Austria in the Kulturquartier Upper Austria is a show floor and and laboratory for contemporary art focusing on room installation and media art. The Ursulinenhof as part of the Kulturquartier is the action space and homestead for local cultural associations. The Biologiezentrum Dornach Auhof is a museum of natural history with an internationally significant botanical, zoological and geoscientific collection.

voestalpine Stahlwelt – experiencing the voestalpine Steel Plant
voestalpine-Straße 4, 4020 Linz

The voestalpine Stahlwelt offers a journey of discovery through the realms of steelmaking, steel products and the success story of steel. The uppermost floor is dedicated to the voestalpine Group. The concept of the exhibition offers a unique interplay of experience and transfer of knowledge.

In the Zeitgeschichte MUSEUM (museum of contemporary history), voestalpine commemorates the forced labourers of the Reichswerke Hermann Göring in Linz during the Nazi regime.

The City of Linz was designated a UNESCO City of Media Arts on December 1, 2014

Ever since the inception of Ars Electronica and the Cloud of Sound in 1979, Linz, Austria – Europe’s 2009 Capital of Culture –has been making impressive strides as a trailblazer and international hotbed of media art and digital competence. The annual Ars Electronica Festival and Prix Ars Electronica showcase and honor excellence, and deliver essential impetus to media culture worldwide, while the Ars Electronica Center and Futurelab are driving forces for innovation both in research and development as well as in education throughout the region.

At present, the city is concentrating on transforming the Tabakfabrik, a former tobacco processing plant located in the heart of the inner city, into a center of the creative economy – with Creative Region, Linz and Upper Austria’s creative industries development company, at its core. Another point high up on the city’s agenda is to become Europe’s first Open Commons region. Furthermore, the City of Linz will acquire a substantial part of the oeuvre of renowned performance and media artist Valie Export and make it available in a brand-new research center. On the basis of recent urban development that has accentuated culture and the creative economy, Linz has the know-how and experience to bring a high level of cooperativeness and readiness to engage in dialog to its dealings in the network.

UNESCO Creative Cities Network

Since 1974, the Brucknerhaus offers first class music in a first class acoustic setting. The annual Brucknerfest and the Klangwolke are the highlights of the concert year. As a multidisciplinary venue the Posthof constitutes a contemporary dynamic hub for international stars as well as a platform for the presentation of local emerging artists.

The Landestheater Linz includes three locations: the Musiktheater am Volksgarten, which opened in 2013, the Schauspielhaus and the Kammerspiele. The Musiktheater is currently Europe’s most modern opera house, featuring musical theatre productions as well as theatre productions capitalizing on new media and thechnologies. The Schauspielhaus, as well as the Kammerspiele, both designed by Clemens Holzmeister, show top-quality dramatic art. The Kammerspiele also house the Junges Theater (young theatre).

The Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität is one of five Austrian universities for music, dance and drama.

Anton Bruckner was an exceptionally gifted organ virtuoso and undoubtedly the most famous composer of the city of Linz. Named after him are the Brucknerhaus, the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität and the Bruckner Orchester Linz. The Bruckner Orchester is the opera orchestra of the Landestheater as well as the philharmonic orchestra of Upper Austria and enjoys an excellent reputation in Austria and abroad.

In addition to the federal and municipal theatres, a number of further cultural institutions, supported by municipal funding, provide for a multifaceted cultural landscape in Linz.

Numerous festivals, e.g. the Brucknerfest, the biennial Festival 4020, the equally biennial theatre festival SCHÄXPIR, the Stream festival for digital art, or the annual Pflasterspektakel contribute to making Linz a culturally lively town.

Literature and education in Linz are closely linked, be it in the Stifterhaus or in the Wissensturm (tower of knowledge).

With a unanimous declaration of the municipal council in 1986, the city of Linz has undertaken the commitment to take up the "longing for peace and the commitment of the people in the city and to increasingly make it a basic principle of future municipal politics."

Since then, several activities have been implemented:

Did you know that the city council of Linz annually decides on a peace declaration that deals with topics of current world events, but also with important events and basic values ​​in Linz?

Did you know that the mayor of Linz is a member of the "Mayors for Peace", a Hiroshima-based global initiative of cities committed to peace work and nuclear disarmament?

Did you know that the Peace Initiative of the City of Linz, an honorary committee of persons, meets six times a year to implement peace activities, to discuss important issues and to advise the mayor on peace matters?

Did you know that, since 1990, there is a Peace Square in Linz, and, in this square, there is the Human Rights Fountain, which shows all 30 articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Did you know that a Peace Library in the Wissensturm informs about possibilities of peace education, results of peace and conflict research, nonviolent action, individual conflicts and the peace movement?

Did you know that you can hear peace music in the city of peace – from a CD of the concert “hearing peace”?

Did you know that signboards under the place-name sign of Linz inform that the city has been a city of peace since 1986?

Further information can be found in the folder for Friedensstadt Linz: 

Friedensstadt Linz (german)

How the Capital of Culture Year Changed the City

Over decades, the Upper Austrian capital has constantly changed, acquiring a new self-confidence, but it was the Capital of Culture Year that boosted the further transformation and development of Linz. Linz changes – this is the new slogan of the city.

A central objective of Linz09 for the city was clearly met: to draw the attention to Linz beyond regional borders and to acquire international reputation. In addition, today the city is known for being interesting, dynamic, modern and open-minded, thus has acquired a much more positive image both in Austria and in Europe. To ensure that Linz maintains its success in the long term, the city decided to evaluate and to redesign the Cultural Development Plan elaborated in 2000. This project was finished in 2013.

Sustainable Urban Development

The change in the city was associated with a change in the mindset of people, enabling not only tourists to discover Linz, but also the citizens, based on a new perspective, to rediscover their city. The new diversity of events as well as a wider selection of restaurants and bars, public transport and urban development significantly increased the quality of life in Linz.

New cultural buildings sustainably changed the cityscape as well as the cultural life. The LENTOS Kunstmuseum Linz was opened in 2003 and the Knowledge Tower in 2007, followed by the rebuilt Ars Electronica Center with its characteristic architecture on the Northern side of the Danube. The reconstructed south wing of the Castle Museum offers new views of Linz. The State Library in the listed building from the 1930s was also rebuilt and enlarged. Another newly opened cultural venue is the international studio house Atelierhaus Salzamt where young European artists can deepen their talents.

New Diversity and a Modern Definition of Culture

The audience in Linz has become curious. The new focus is a modern definition of culture which turned culture consumers, who took a passive attitude up to that point, into active participants in impressive Linz09 projects, such as the Linz Cloud of Sound, the District of Culture of the Month, Bellevue and the Academy of the Impossible, just to mention a few. A real highlight was the Höhenrausch exhibition on the rooftops of Linz with a record number of 270,000 visitors. No contemporary art exhibition in Austria was ever visited by so many people.
Linz09 projects created a new social awareness. The Linz Charter, for example, drawn up by the city council within the scope of the Acoustic City initiative, became a policy vehicle for approaching noise and was introduced in other countries.

Networks and Successes

Linz09 resulted in stronger networks in Linz, networks between cultural institutions, between culture, tourism and economy as well as with many other cities at international level, sustainably increasing quality standards of cultural activities and of interdisciplinarity as well as the willingness of many players to cooperate.
Looking at the number of tourists visiting Linz, the result is overwhelmingly positive: while other Austrian cities see a decline, Linz had an increase in overnight stays by about 10 percent, despite a decrease in business travellers.

Linz09 has become exemplary, a development which was possible by the common efforts of a large number of people, all pulling in the same direction. Based on the ambitious work done by the Linz09 team and many participants, a common idea was realized.

New Culture Development Plan

The new Culture Development Plan, which has continuously been developed since 2010 and was finished in 2013, underpins the necessity of a continuous cultural development after Linz09. 

Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture

The Atelierhaus Salzamt is an artist residency space run by the City of Linz since 2009. The house was built in 1706 as imperial salt chamber on the southern bank of the Danube. The Atelierhaus Salzamt gives young international and local artists in the field of fine arts the opportunity to work in a new environment, to exchange ideas with colleagues and work and organize exhibitions together. For this purpose the Artists in Residence will get an apartment and a studio provided during their stay for up to 6 months. In addition the artists will receive a grant for covering their living expenses. The resulting artworks will be presented in the Salzamt exhibition room.

The house provides five studios for international Artists in Residence, four studios for local artists from Linz or Upper Austria, accommodation for international artists and an exhibition hall.

The duration of the residency is currently up to six months. Studio and apartment will be provided free of charge. In addition, the artist-in-residence will also receive a sum of up to 700 Euro per month.

Application: For 2019 no further applications can be accepted

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