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.  The film will be screened this autumn with Joseph Koerner fielding questions at: the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Sunday, September 22), the Tisch School of Art at NYU (Friday, September 27), and the Getty Museum (Tuesday, October 15). The film is an official selection of the 2019 Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival to held at the Cinematique December 21-25.  Watch for screenings at the Whitney Museum of American Art (November 2019), Princeton University (December 2019), the Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Mass (February 16, 2020), Vanderbilt University (March 2020), and University of British Columbia (March 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).