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History of Success

Edition 2 / 23. August 2017

Congress city Vienna. After only two and half years of construction the Messe Wien Neu was opened in January 2004. The site in the 2nd district is visited by more than 700,000 people each year and is the central hub for business in Vienna.

Exhibitions in Vienna have a long tradition. In 1873, during imperial and royal times, Emperor Franz Joseph opened the world exposition on the Rotundengelände – making it the first comprehensive presentation of goods at the time (view infobox on the next page). In 2000/01, the new age of the site in the Leopoldstadt began, and thanks to the expansion of the metro line 2 and settlement of the Vienna University of Economics and Business in 2015 it became a new hotspot for Vienna. There are still new buildings being constructed today.
The Messe Wien Neu is exclusively operated by Reed Exhibitions Messe Wien, and owned by the Wiener Messe Besitz GmbH, in short MBG (a subsidiary of “Wien Holding”). We asked director of MBG, Katharina Weishaupt, for an interview about the success story as well as future prospects.

The world exposition was the begin of the success story. How can one envision exhibitions back then?
Back then the public fairs obviously were a sensation for the Viennese community. Surrounded by the Wiener Prater and many other attractions, one could see and try out new products here. The fairs were public festivals and promotional events for the economy in one. The Vienna spring and autumn fairs held that status for quite some time. Nowadays the Vienna Car Show and Holiday Fair are most popular with the public. Of course, the Messe Wien also has great success with various international congresses and trade fairs.
An often-told story is that Gustav Peichl, chef architect of the Messe Wien Neu, drew the first designs on a napkin.
I’ve also heard this story: according to it the first draft really was drawn on a paper napkin. Gustav Peichl sketched his idea on it. Johann Jungreithmair, at the time the director of Reed Exhibitions, was there and directly implemented his ideas.
What were the constructional demands of the Messe Wien Neu?
First and foremost was to create a modern exhibition and congress location which could be used flexibly. Exactly this multifunction makes the exhibition and congress center in the Prater so successful. All rooms – for exhibitions, congresses, presentations and events – are located under one roof. The halls, foyers, atrium and rooms, are not only dividible and combinable but also highly equipped. This way we can create the right stage, right frame and right mix for any and all demands. Everything is possible here, from a major event with more than 150,000 visitors to special workshops of a pharma-giant with just 150.

How does the structure of the area look and has it changed in the last 13 years?
The exhibition center Vienna consists of five components and the garages and warehouses: there are four exhibition halls and the congress center with the exhibition tower, where offices for management are located. Approx. 46,000 square meter exhibition area are available in the three exhibition halls A, B and C. The multifunctional hall D with 9.000 square meter exhibition area is equipped for entertainment and show events. A 450-meter long mall connects the four halls as well as the congress center and both independently usable foyers. The congress center offers up to 15 convention sessions on 7,000 square meters. In 2010, MBG created additional 1.200  square meters of flexible area for convention and conference rooms in hall B.
What constructional investments are planned for 2017?
In 2017, the reconstruction of the food stall in hall D, which will be taken over by a new operator. Also planned is a retooling of the building control system and the modernisation of elevators in hall B. And in line with the “green” Messe Wien way we started in previous years, the lights in the congress center will be changed to LED technology.
How important is the Reed Messe Wien as an economic factor for Vienna?
The Messe Wien attracts more than 700,000 yearly visitors since its reopening in 2004. That’s an enormous economic factor. Not only Viennese but also thousands of international guests enjoy going to the Messe Wien because of various trade fairs and congresses. The exhibition & congress center has evolved into a very lively location which strengthens the role of Vienna as connecting center between west and east in the heart of Europe.


With the world exposition of 1873 in the 2nd district, the age of the Vienna fairs was rung in during the time of emperor Franz Joseph. On 11th of August 1921 the start of regular events in Vienna began when the “1st Vienna Fair” was held. During times of war the site was nearly completely destroyed. Since the 80s the spring and autumn fairs were gradually replaced by trade and special fairs. The privatization of the Wiener Messe followed soon after. In the 1990s the city decided to restart and bought back the exhibition grounds, and in 2001 started the successful project “Messe Wien Neu”.