The VIENNA PROJECT at Harvard University is a scholarly and artistic collaboration that explores Vienna at the turn of the last century through the lens of home and homemaking. 

At its center stands the production of an historical documentary film titled The Burning Child. Investigating the Viennese interior - as both architecture and subjectivity - the film captures utopias of home amidst the creative dynamism of an ancient imperial city in the process of rapid modernization. 

Devised and directed by Joseph Leo Koerner, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard, the Vienna Project is funded by a grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Experience / Erleben

  • "People’s living styles are every day becoming more alike."

    Otto Wagner / Modern Architecture / 1894

  • "The uncanny is that which was once homelike, familiar."

    Sigmund Freud / The Uncanny / 1919

  • "A proof is not its foundations plus the rules of inference but a new house.”

    Ludwig Wittgenstein / Foundation of Mathematics / 1938

  • “What did he have to guard? The tomb? The memory? History itself?”

    Joseph Roth / The Emperor's Tomb / 1938

DREAM / Träumen

View the animated short created by Oscar-nominated animator Tim Reckart of the Dream of The Burning Child as retold by Sigmund Freud in his seminal Interpretation of Dreams (1900).  Made before The Burning Child, Reckart's animation visualizes the nightmare that underlies the feature film of the same title.


Watch a clip from the end of the personal story in The Burning Child, in addition to the official trailerIn 2019 the film was screened in the USA and Israel, including at: the Tisch School of Art NYU, the Getty Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Film Forum at Princeton University, and the 2019 Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival.  Watch for the Canadian Premier, sponsored by the University of British Columbia (the Cinématèque, March 17, 2020), and a screening in Koerner's hometown of Pittsburgh at the JFilm Festival (April 28, 2020). 

SEE / Sehen

Watch videos of lectures and visual essays by Joseph Leo Koerner on the Vienna Interior, the Tummelplatz and the Family Portrait.

LISTEN / Hören

Listen to a recording of Austrian tenor Richard Tauber (1891-1948) singing "O Freund, ich werde sie nicht wiedersehen" from Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Viennese opera Die tote Stadt (1920) visually accompanied by photographs of a war-torn Vienna in 1946 by Henry Koerner (1915-1991).