Lonely Planet Writer

A new museum dedicated entirely to Silent Night opens in Austria

A brand new museum dedicated to the Christmas carol Silent Night has opened in town of Wagrain, near Salzburg in Austria. 2018 will mark 200 years since the song was first played and the new interactive exhibition centre will help visitors understand the legacy of the song as well as its global impact.

Silent Night museum in Wagrain. Image by SalzburgerLand Tourismus

Housed in a renovated Pflegerschlössl (Prince-Archbishop’s administration building), the Stille Nacht Museum is spread across three floors, and it traces the history of the song and the life of its author, Joseph Mohr, who was a priest in the village until he died in 1848. Mohr is buried in the local village church.

The original sheet music for Silent Night. Image by Daniel Fahey

As well as offering visitors a unique look at Christmas in the 1800s — like jars of incense on show (a local tradition that was thought to avert bad fortune), an old Krampus mask and photographs depicting local festive rituals — the museum also has an interactive board that follows the history of the town; a large globe that allows visitors to see Christmas celebrations from around the world; and music speakers that play different versions of the song.

The whole museum is dedicated entirely to Silent Night. Image by Daniel Fahey

Eight students from Mozarteum University Salzburg have even composed new versions of Silent Night for the museum. Each offers an interpretation of what the carol would sound like if it was written in the modern era. The museum also playfully explores the theme of time with interviews of number of local Wagrain residents, a video projection of a snowy day that can either be viewed in quick- or in slow-motion, plus a small room that mimics the ‘silence’ of being outside in a snowy day.

Wagrain’s Silent Night museum. Image by Daniel Fahey

As Silent Night turns 200 years old in 2018, the regions of Salzburgerland, Tyrol and Upper Austria are all set for celebrations, particularly next winter. Among the highlights on offer is a Silent Night concert series in Hallein, a musical theatre troupe performing never-before-heard versions of the famous carol and a much more. Head here for further information.