With Christmas right here and the New Year just round the corner, there will be plenty of celebrating going on in the Austrian capital of Vienna, but the city has a special reason for looking forward to 2012, over and above the usual. For reasons that are mainly to do with the media’s all encompassing love of disaster, misfortune and prophetic calamity, the year 2012 has taken on a holy status of veneration and fear that hasn’t been seen since we all thought our computers were going to explode in the year 2000. For one group however, anticipation of 2012 has nothing to do with Mayan calendars and doomsday predictions, but rather because it will be a huge year for Austrian art and for cultural activities in the city of Vienna.

Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt was born in Vienna July of 1862, and the upcoming year will mark what would have been his 150th birthday. The significance of the date and of Klimt’s contributions to the Austrian art scene, and indeed all modern art, has not been lost on the arts community, and events and celebrations have been planned throughout the year, with many focused on the Austrian capital city. Klimt’s 150th is in many ways being used as a platform to bring the work of his many contemporaries to the attention of the greater public, as well as to raise awareness of contemporary Austrian artists by highlighting how Klimt and the other artists of the Vienna Secession have helped to shape Austria’s modern day artistic landscape.

So what are the main attractions? Well, any trip to Vienna would be remiss without a visit to the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, the world famous museum housed at Vienna’s Belvedere Palace. The gallery is where The Kiss is on permanent display and it will play host to exhibitions and displays celebrating Klimt throughout the year, with its current show Pioneers Of Modernism highlighting the relationship between Klimt and architect Josef Hoffman. The Leopold Museum will be hosting Gustav Klimt: A (time) Journey which will focus on over two decades of letter, postcards, photographs and other correspondence between Klimt and his life-long partner Emilie Flöge.

The Albertina Museum will be showing off Klimt’s skills as a draughtsman with its display Klimt – Drawings, which will feature 170 of the museums own Klimt drawings as well as pieces on loan, presenting a complete view of the various stages of his career. And the Kunsthistorisches Museum will be holding a special exhibition that focuses on 13 paintings that Klimt completed for the museum’s grand staircase and the sketches on which they were based – a unique insight into the earliest stages of the Art Nouveau movement. And these are just some of the major exhibitions of Klimt’s work – the rest of the Vienna Secession and the Austrian art scene will also be on display at various locations and events are being planned around the city throughout the year. Klimt’s 150th is being used as a way to re-establish and reaffirm Vienna’s cultural legacy, and for art lovers there may never be a better time to pay a visit to Klimt’s hometown.