Being one of the most iconic exhibitions of Dialogue in the Dark, they recently faced the challenge of a deteriorating old venue.
As an organization with a greater social than economic impact, it was practically impossible for the administration to fund the restoration of a rental building. Therefore, they decided to relocate.
However, moving is more complex for Dialogue in the Dark than for other attractions. On one hand, the venue must offer optimal conditions to fully darken its space at a reasonable cost. On the other hand, most of the staff live with visual disabilities, so accessibility to the venue is crucial.
I spoke with partner and Director Eva Kriechbaum about this.
What was it like for your team?
At first, we didn't want to tell them that we would soon have to leave our venue. It's not an easy subject and raises uncertainties about work continuity. But they could sense something was off; we managers were constantly in meetings, and our mood was affected.
When we had two relocation options, we shared them with the team. There was a brief initial shock, but they didn't hesitate and unanimously agreed to move along with the exhibition.
Tell us a little bit about the new venue.
The new venue is in Seestadt, a large urban development area in Vienna’s biggest district. By 2030, it's expected that 25,000 people will live and 20,000 will work here. Seestadt is accessible by metro and is a short walk from the station. There's a small lake and many recreational areas nearby. The venue is smaller than the old one, but we've maximized the space. For example, we use the dining room as a multipurpose room, including for educational purposes. We have around 500m² for the exhibition and an additional 200m² for the lobby, seminar room, and staff room.
Is the team with visual disabilities fine with this new venue?
Yes, they are. The layout is straightforward, and the guides found it easy to learn. The most challenging part is navigating from the metro station to the building. The area is accessible for wheelchair users and families with small children, but not for persons with visual disabilities. We're working on a guidance system from the metro station to the venue, but it's a mid-term project due to bureaucratic and political decisions. However, we're committed to this as it's part of the social impact that Dialogue in the Dark aims to achieve, not only for our visitors but also in the city area we occupy.
And how does the future look for this new venue?
Currently, we're focusing on the basic offerings. In the first week, we managed to book half our capacity, which is promising for a new location. We aim to return to our usual visitor numbers. We'll have our first breakfast tours – one of our offerings – on the last weekend of November. And we'll host our first Dinner in the Dark at the beginning of December – another signature experience.
Congratulations to the DiD Vienna team on their new venue, to Eva and her team for continuing our social mission despite the challenges. Don't forget to visit them at their new location if you are in Vienna. Here you can find all the information you need for booking!