Perched on top of the steep cliff of Mönchsberg mountain, sixty metres above Anton-Neumayr-Square, the Café Winkler has dominated the city for decades. When the casino moved into the baroque palace Klessheim on the outskirts of Salzburg, the Café Winkler stood empty for many years and this landmark building that served as a counterpoint to the medieval fortress lost its splendour.
In 1998 an international architectural competition was organized for the construction of a new building for a museum on Mönchsberg. An 11-member jury chaired by Luigi Snozzi from Switzerland, selected the design of the Munich-based team of architects Friedrich Hoff Zwink from among 145 submissions. The design's sensitive incorporation of the distinctive 19th century water tower was decisive for the award: The glazed staircases offer spectacular vistas of the historic building. The museum was built in three and a half years and offers maximum possibilities for a variety of exhibition formats on four levels.The entire outer facade is clad with local Untersberg marble, separated by vertical joints. In addition to their contribution to the air-conditioning system of the building, these joints can also be interpreted as a reference to the city of Salzburg: the chords of certain arias from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni” were inscribed on the facade in rhythmically positioned slots using a special computer programme. The museum’s interior features 2300 m2 of spacious rooms which offer ideal conditions and meet all requirements for varied exhibitions of 20th and 21st century art. The different levels with their open floor plans can be accessed by a spacious staircase.