MUVS Timeline

The Museum for Contraception and Abortion, MUVS for short, looks back on a constructive and eventful history! With its wide-ranging commitment to self-determined sexuality, the museum has achieved and brought about a lot since it opened in March 2007. You can read here about some of the milestones of MUVS.

January 2018

“Sex? – Yeah, safe!” - MUVS contraception brochure without the taboos

For 10 years already, the MUVS has been offering sex education workshops specifically for adolescents. Time and again, these adolescents would express the desire to be able to take useful information home with them, since time at the workshops is limited, but the demand for knowledge much greater. With “Sex? Yeah, safe!” MUVS has put together a brochure based on its daily educational work with adolescents.

November 2017

Completion of the MUVS photo competition project: “Abortion Press Photo”

The topic of abortion is still taboo. This can be seen from the dearth of useful photographic material available for the media. MUVS therefore announced a photo competition and called upon photographers to represent the living conditions of women or couples carrying unwanted pregnancies, in a creative and realistic way.

October 2017

MUVS organises Sex and Sect: a guided tour for adult women

On 3rd October 2017, the first “Sex and Sect” event, a guided tour for adult women, was held at MUVS. Demand was very high, and the event was booked out in just a few days.

June 2017

MUVS’s 10th anniversary celebration in the KosmosTheater

With a festive and colourful programme, MUVS celebrated its 10-year anniversary in the KosmosTheater in Vienna.

May 2017

Hermann Knaus collection goes online

Knaus publications, academic works by and about Knaus, correspondence, photographs, patents, objects and personal memories from contemporaries were, and still are being, meticulously collected and digitalised. Years of research into the Austrian gynaecologist was published in January 2017 in the form of the first detailed monograph.

January 2017

Scientific biography of Hermann Knaus

Years of research into the Austrian gynaecologist Hermann Hubert Knaus (1892-1970) was published as a book in January 2017. His fastidious observations and astute conclusions provided significant insights into the nature of fertility, what is possible in this regard, and what not.

Knaus Archive
Physicians' Publishing House

October 2016

MUVS poetry slam with Slam B Queen Diana Köhle: "Sexuality and Fertility"

Ten slam poets performed 5-minute texts in a battle for the first MUVS poetry slam prize. The texts were as diverse as the slammers themselves. Cheeky, full of relish, touching, charming, weird and providing plenty of opportunities for the public to identify, the poets packed the evening’s theme into their performances.

July/August 2016

New premises for the archive and object collection

Additional rooms now offer plenty of space for the extensive archive and collection of objects.

May 2016

Reading & public discussion: “The Myth of the Joy of Motherhood: What do Mothers Need Today?”

Sarah Fischer (“Die Mutterglück Lüge” [The lie about the joy of motherhood], 2/2016) and Esther Göbel (“Die falsche Wahl” [The wrong choice], 3/2016) spoke at MUVS about their current books on the controversial phenomenon of “regretting motherhood”. Historically over-inflated, long-outdated images of “the mother” and the unsolved problem of work-life balance are issues that both authors count amongst the greatest difficulties of modern motherhood and of achieving a realistic depiction of what it is to be a mother.

May 2015

Podium discussion: “Unwanted Pregnancy: Who Should Decide? 40 Years of Abortion on Demand and Still in the Penal Code”

To mark the occasion of 40 years of abortion on demand during the first 3 months of pregnancy in Austria, national and international experts discussed whether this is still at all relevant for the modern day or whether it has long become obsolete thanks to technological developments in medicine (cf. drug-induced abortion).

March 2015

Vienna Women’s Day: “Open Town Hall”

To mark the occasion of Vienna Women’s Day 2015, “Safe, autonomous and independent”, MUVS showcased itself as an expert point of contact for education that builds awareness about controlling, and having autonomy over, reproduction.

June 2013

Digitalisation of our library

Our specialised library currently encompasses around 2000 works. Many of these cannot be found in any other library, are out of stock in bookshops, or are only to be procured at great effort and expense. Since our library is not open to the public, we make most of the works available online: the majority of the older books have already been scanned and are accessible to all users on our homepage for free. They can be found using the search function on our homepage and can be read online or downloaded. In addition, specific terms can be searched for within the books.

Many of the books, however, are in fragments or written in old writing, making them difficult to decipher for today’s readers. For this reason, we have also run them through a script-recognition programme to make them “readable”.

Bit by bit, we are also making our collections of newspaper articles, magazines, brochures, leaflets, posters, package inserts, images, letters, original documents etc. (in total, around 3000 items) accessible online.

MUVS Book Browser


New MUVS homepage goes online

The homepage was reworked with the help of graphic designers and evaluation from classes of school children.

May 2012

Film presentation of “The Long Arm of the Empress” and podium discussion

Hosted in the Vienna Natural History Museum with subsequent expert discussion: “How Free is Sex Today? Between the Power Politics of Sexual Morality and Modern Myths.”

May 2012

5 Years of the Museum of Contraception and Abortion Celebration next to the Maria Theresa monument 5 Years of the MUVS
A Fiery Celebration

Spring 2012

Documentary film: “The Long Arm of the Empress”

A Film from the journalist Susanne Riegler about the long road to legal abortion in 1975 and the end of suffering and death of women in Austria.

November 2011

MUVS as a model for the Cologne Museum Fair

Alongside three other European museums, MUVS was selected by the “Best in Heritage Excellence Club” for presentation at the 2011 Cologne museum trade fair “Exponatec”. Christian Fiala spoke about the “Path from being directed by others to having autonomy”. MUVS revealed a glimpse into its museum. There was great interest in MUVS, particularly in the didactic application of the topic of controlling fertility.

Cologne Trade Fair

October 2011

The Best in Heritage

In recognition of its valuable contribution towards preserving cultural heritage/technology, the Museum of Contraception and Abortion was accepted into the “Excellence Club - The Best in Heritage” by the European Heritage Association.


July/August 2010

Endowment from the Medical University of Vienna

Endowment of a large mixed lot of medical journals and books in the summer of 2010.

May 2010

Kenneth Hudson Award

With the Kenneth Hudson Award from the European Museum Forum, a new prize was created for innovative confrontation of controversial topics and pioneering new ideas. This prize honours people, projects or museums who have “succeeded in the extraordinary feat of imparting the content and value of a museum to the public”.

Kenneth Hudson

January 2010

Press briefing: 35 Years of Abortion on demand with Johanna Dohnal

Marking the occasion of the 35-year anniversary of abortion on demand, if performed by a doctor during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Held on 25th January 2010, this comprehensive documentation of events, with background information, audio recordings, photos and video footage, was also one of the last political statements from Johanna Dohnal.

October 2009, 2014

Seal of Museum Quality

Just two years after its opening (2007), MUVS was already distinguished with the Austrian Seal of Museum Quality. Beforehand, experts from ICOM Austria (The International Council of Museums) and the Austrian Museums Association screened the museum from all angles for six whole months, covering the whole gambit, from exhibitions to accessibility. The Austrian Seal of Museum Quality is a quality award that has been used to confirm the minimum standard of a museum since 2002. Above all, this entails: a focus on preserving cultural heritage, high-quality presentation, and a minimum level of service, as well as adherence to the “Ethical Guidelines for Museums”.


March 2008 – present

Contraception leads the way

A teaching concept consisting of 90-minute interactive tours for students as a way of supplementing sexual education. The goal is for adolescents to be able to apply their knowledge about sexuality and contraception in practice as well (prevention of unwanted pregnancies).

In March 2008, MUVS organised a press meeting with experts from various disciplines and approaches to teaching sex education (sexual medicine/education, social and educational sciences). In doing so, MUVS once again positioned itself as an expert partner and platform for improving sexual education.

Contraception Leads the way

2008 – present

Preserving cultural assets

Our objects reach our collection in a used condition, with some better preserved than others – they are only very rarely fresh out of production. Depending on material, age, and intended purpose, various types of damage can occur: rubber parts disintegrate, plastic becomes brittle and breaks, paper and cardboard yellow and tear. The stabilisation and conservation of our object collection is intended to prevent the damage from worsening. Gentle adhesives and professional “repairs” restore the objects to the extent that visitors can appreciate them as witnesses to living conditions from time past. Another reason why we concern ourselves with the stabilisation and conservation of our objects is the fact that, in many cases, they are “the last of their kind”. There is hardly anyone who keeps his or her old and used means of contraception, and items inherited from parents or grandparents are disposed of as quickly as possible. Only a very few museums worldwide have noteworthy inventories of objects from our field of collection. In keeping with the objects’ significance for cultural and medical history, we commission graduates and professors from appropriate university departments with the work of restoration and safekeeping.

Cultural Assets

October 2007 – present

The Long Night of Museums

First-ever participation in the Long Night of Museums (Lange Nacht der Museen): long waits for around 870 visitors. Ever since, the MUVS has regularly taken part in this event.

March 2007 – present

First version of the MUVS homepage goes online

The first objects and stories on the topic of contraception, pregnancy tests and abortion are placed online and are constantly being expanded.

Guided tours for school groups and adults are offered.

Our guided tours are a combination of cultural-historical narration and contemporary knowledge about contraception and abortion. They impart not just the facts, but also the awareness needed for an autonomous relationship with one’s own fertility. MUVS works with tangible objects from back in the day and today; demonstration materials are passed round, stories are told – and an impression of the processes that take place in one’s own body is provided. Age, previous knowledge, gender and the social and cultural context of the visiting group are all taken into consideration when imparting the information.

Guided Tours

7th March 2007


Inauguration of the museum by former Minister of Women’s Affairs Johanna Dohnal.

Foundation of MUVS

2006 – present

Acquisition of bequests, loan items and records of memoirs (oral history)

Descendants, students and former assistants of famous Austrian researchers (e.g. Hermann Knaus, Hans Jakob Gerster, Otto Otfried Fellner, Ludwig Haberlandt, Hans Kremser, Michael Boruth, Isabella Ackerl, Johanna Dohnal) are traced and contacted; valuable loan items can be acquired.

Hermann Knaus Documents Archive (1892-1970)

Alongside his books and approximately 170 academic papers, the Knaus collection encompasses work logs, correspondence, dossiers, photographs, newspaper reports, certificates, documents etc. In terms of objects, it contains the calculation aid based on his findings – the C.D. Indicator – from several countries, as well as further tools for determining which days are safe and which not. The collection came into being through various different channels: firstly, thanks to a generous fixed-term loan from his family, and secondly due to our own many years of research and collecting in archives, libraries and databases at home and abroad, as well as to private and institutional expertise.

Knaus Documents Archive

Museum presentation folder and postcards

The museum presentation folder (in German and English) and an edition of postcards are developed.

Press MUVS

Autumn 2004

FIAPAC Conference in Vienna

The following modules from the MUVS were presented: “Pill & Co.”, “Condom”, “Vaginal Douches” and “Coils”.

May 2004 – present

Museum database is installed

The first objects and books are inventoried and photographed.

June 2003 – present

Regular newsletter in German and English

Providing information to doctors (GPs, gynaecologists, urologists), pharmacists, teachers, tour guides, academics and other university staff, donors and interested parties, companies, associations, friends and journalists.