Vienna’s Incredible Sign Painter Museum

Antique painted signs, sign books and a rabbit's foot at the Schildermalermuseum (Sign Painter Museum).

Vienna’s Incredible Sign Painter Museum

In October I visited Austria for the launch of Ghostletters Vienna by Tom Koch. While there I was taken on many trips across the city, and also on a visit to the Schildermalermuseum (Sign Painter Museum). It is a little-known gem which should be a place of pilgrimage for anyone in the sign and lettering world.

The museum is housed in the former workshop of Josef Samuel, the last in four generations of Viennese sign painters. The business was originally set up in 1882 by Josef’s Great Grandfather and the museum contains material gathered across the 130 years that elapsed between then and the recent closure of the shop.

Signage for the Samuel business

Starting with the founder successive generations realised the value of keeping their work, and other materials connected with it. A number of pieces advertising the business itself were on display.

Detail of Arnold Samuel’s sign, dating from the 1880s.
Detail of Arnold Samuel’s sign, dating from the 1880s.
Sample sheets, including Arnold Samuel sign and layout.
Sample sheets, including Arnold Samuel sign and layout.
Door plate for the business.
Door plate for the business.
Arnold Samuel’s sign, dating from the 1880s, among other items at the museum entrance.
Arnold Samuel’s sign, dating from the 1880s, among other items at the museum entrance.

Gold & Glass Pieces

The business was highly versatile, able to work in a variety of techniques, including gilding and glass work.

Self-promotional piece by Arnold Samuel.
Self-promotional piece by Arnold Samuel.
Gilded R on glass.
Gilded R on glass.
Sodawasser.
Sodawasser.
Carved and glass sign with gilding.
Carved and glass sign with gilding.