A guide to better living through cured pork products

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A trip to the Archives

Not all archives are created equal, at least not in aesthetic terms. The Hungarian archives are squirreled away in a nice nineteenth century historicist building in the the Buda Castle. Great building, nice reading room, but a bit small, so bits and pieces of the archives are stashed in other parts of the city.

In Vienna, the Austrian State Archives are in a big modern building out near the suburban district of Simmering. The outside of the building is fantastically ugly. Its a terrific example of modernism gone wrong. The building is lumpy and white, and the windows have a gold reflective coating that is particular to Central Europe.

Best of all the reading room of the archive has this terrific institutional furniture made of wood laminate. Its light blond in color and has the same appeal as the "avocado" or "golden rod" colored appliances of the same era.

Of course, what the archives look like is besides the point. True beauty is what lies within. And in that respect the Austrian State Archives are great. The staff are unfailingly kind and helpful. They have graciously put up with my crummy German. Based on the finding aids and their advice, it turns out that there will be plenty of material for my projects. I can't wait until I get to visit again.

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