The Third Man Museum, Vienna




The Third Man Museum in Vienna is a short walk from the Naschmarkt and central Ring and stretches over three parts of the building. The first two parts are in rooms at street level and are devoted to the classic Third Man film, which was set – and filmed – in Vienna, and the last part is imaginatively built into the basement of the building and tell the story of pre and post war Vienna as well as offering a bit of a fun recreation of the famous sewer chase scene.


We made sure we watched the film on Netflix in our hotel room the day before we visited the museum, that way it was fresh in our minds, and we’d definitely recommend this if you have the chance. It made every exhibit come alive that little bit more and we could appreciate all the little details that the passionate owner, Gerhard, had put into it all.

Of special interest to photographers is the fact that, unlike every other museum in Vienna, The Third Man museum doesn’t have a confused policy about photography. When I heard someone ask if they could take pictures Gerhard said,

“Yes of course, it’s compulsory!”

You view the museum in a set order. Starting at the entrance hall, where you pay your €7 (a fair price considering the huge collection and the extensive viewing experience), you’re escorted outside and down the street, to the first room. This room holds, among many other things, Trevor Howard’s original script and the actual Zither instrument that the iconic theme tune was written and recorded on.




There are also hundreds of images from the film, records of the theme tune, a small darkened room where you can experience Harry Lime appearing and then disappearing and also examples of cameras that would’ve been used on the film.







Once we were finished here we were let into the second room that was flanked with posters of the film from around the world and which centered on a couple of rows of cinema style seats and a huge 1930′s camera that’d been brought to the city by the Nazis to aid in their propaganda efforts.





We were encouraged to sit here and Gerhard lowered a screen and played a short segment of the film…



We found the whole experience absorbing, and it got better as we descended into the basement. Here it was less about the film and more about the world in which the film was set, telling about the hardships and rationing in Vienna pre and post war through original photos, flags, uniforms and objects.


Finally, we descended into the ‘sewer’ section…


…before climbing a spiral, metal staircase and emerging back at the entrance hall.

You won’t find too many Viennese people talking about the Third Man film, and only about 2% of the museum visitors are locals. It may be listed as one of the all time great films in other countries but it was never very popular in Austria as it doesn’t exactly show Vienna in the best light. The city portrayed in the film is in ruins following the war, and most locals are either involved in smuggling or trying their best to look the other way and survive in very tough circumstances. So if you don’t see the museum listed in locally written guides please don’t take it to mean that the museum isn’t worth a few hours of your time, as in our opinion it most certainly is!

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