Soybean seedlings

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Soy in Vienna

It is no secret that Viennese wine grows and thrives splendidly in the city. But the fact that soy is also cultivated without the use of gene-modification technology and often organically is new to most people. How did the well-known bean come from Japan to Vienna, and where is soy found in Vienna nowadays?

The history behind soy in Vienna

It all began in 1872, when the agricultural scientist Friedrich Haberlandt (1826-1878), who is still considered to be a "European soy pioneer", was appointed to the newly founded University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna. He lectured there from 1872 to 1878, and mainly dedicated himself to the cultivation of agricultural plants. As an expert, he was even responsible for the soil culture section at 1873 Vienna World's Fair. No wonder that the soybean immediately piqued his interest. It was presented to a global audience for the first time at the World's Fair in Vienna, in the country sections of Japan and China. Haberlandt's expectations for the exotic soybean were high; he hoped for a lot from the new plant, especially when it came to the economy and feeding the population. Haberlandt started on the first cultivation trials at Schönborn Garden Palace – the university's location at the time. To this day, his breeding and cultivation efforts are seen as the starting shot for the worldwide success story of soy.

Soy in the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art

After its discover at the World's Fair in Vienna, soy continued on its victory march. There, where soy had its beginnings in Vienna – at Schönborn Garden Palace – Friedrich's son Michael Haberlandt founded the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art in 1917. Over the years, however, the approach to soy increasingly changed; in particular, the cultivation methods and impacts on people and nature are disputed nowadays. In 2018, a multi-disciplinary symposium convened by the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art focused on the controversial issue of soy and urban agriculture. That was the starting shot for the soy project in Vienna.

The project is being continued in 2023: Since then the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art invites you to visit its online exhibition "MuSOJAm". In five sections, the museum deals with the extraordinary position of soy in society as a crop, and examines not only its history, but also more in-depth issues.

Soy currently in Vienna

The popular cultivation methods of the soybean as a monoculture with a high climate impact have given the plant a bad image. However, Viennese agriculture is taking the sustainable path and cultivating soy regionally and in a climate-friendly manner, mostly certified and without deforestation. Soy is currently cultivated on 224 hectares in Vienna – 35% of that in an eco-friendly way.

What began with Haberlandt's vision in the 19th century is today a reality: Soy is not only a crop, but one of the most important foods in the meat-free diet. Even if Viennese cuisine is famous for being especially hearty and heavy on meat, there are now many vegan and vegetarian alternatives in Vienna. Vegan cuisine in particular uses a lot of soy products. Vienna has some special vegan restaurants that get by entirely without animal-based additives:

Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art (Volkskundemuseum Wien)

Laudongasse 15-19
1080 Vienna
  • Opening times

    • Tu - Su, 10:00 - 17:00
    • Currently not open for exhibitions.

  • Accessibility

    • Main entrance
      • no steps (Automatic sliding doors 180 cm wide)
    • Car parks Main entrance
      • Parking spaces for people with disabilities
    • Further information
      • Seeing eye dogs allowed
    • Special offers for people with disabilities

      Special tours for visually impaired visitors.

    • Comments

      Access to permanent exhibition area and café: no steps, freight elevator to special exhibition rooms (assistance necessary).

Weltmuseum Wien (World Museum Vienna)

Hofburg, Heldenplatz
1010 Vienna
  • Vienna City Card

    • Benefits of the Vienna City Card: -6%

      Additional information on the offer:

      Standard ticket price: 16€

  • Opening times

    • Tu, 10:00 - 21:00
    • We - Su, 10:00 - 18:00
  • Accessibility

    • Main entrance
      • no steps (Automatic sliding doors )
        accessible by platform lift.
    • Car parks Main entrance
      • 5 Parking spaces for people with disabilities
        on Heldenplatz
    • Elevator available
      • Door 92 cm wide
    • Further information
      • Wheelchair accessible restroom available.
    • Special offers for people with disabilities

      Tactile tours for the blind and visually impaired provided upon request.

    • Comments

      Automatic gate (width: 130 cm) operated with "Euro-Key". Elevator to the special exhibition areas on the first floor as well as to the exhibition areas on the mezzanine.
      The event area is also wheelchair-accessible on request and accompanied by a staff member (contact via intercom at the entrance to the WMW-Forum and at the ticket counter).
      Both the cook café & bistro and the shopping are in the hall of columns can be accessed without steps by means of an elevator.
      Wheelchair-accessible restroom on the upper first floor and mezzanine.

Austria Center Vienna

Bruno-Kreisky-Platz 1
1220 Vienna
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