12 Oct 2020

Writing Off the Wall: The Wholesale Removal of a Viennese Ghost Sign

The above video has Englsih subtitles which can be selected using the ‘CC’ button in the bottom right.

Last summer an extraordinary project took place in Vienna, Austria, with the aim of removing an early-20th Century ghost sign for Adolf Grünsfeld, in its entirety, from its host wall. It’s end destination would be the permanent display at the city’s Wien Museum.

Tom Koch, who produced this film documenting the project, has written about it (with additional photos) here on his Type Travel Diaries. His account includes these comments on the sign’s selection for the permanent collection at the museum.

“It provides testimony to the fate of Viennese Jews under National Socialism. Adolf  Grünsfeld had founded the shop in 1906, in 1938 it was “aryanised”. His  son Hans Grünsfeld fled to Bolivia, where he committed suicide in 1955.”

Tom Koch

I’ve not come across this type of endeavour before, except perhaps the salvaging of a Mail Pouch tobacco barn now on display at the American Sign Museum.

It is good to know that the original artefact has been preserved, and its story will be told, albeit within the new context of a museum. A possible nice addition would to compliment this work with a street-level commemorative plaque or similar that tells the story, including documentary images, and directs viewers to the museum.

See more of Tom’s Type Travel Diaries, get the Ghostletters Vienna book, and learn about the city’s incredible Schildermalermuseum (Sign Painting Museum).

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