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Matti Bunzl, Museum director

By Matti Bunzl

Portraitbild von Matti Bunzl; er trägt eine Brille und schaut nachdenklich © Matti Bunzl

What would you say are symbols of your current situation or the current situation in your country?

To my mind, the objects of the moment are the great many notes now posted in apartment buildings on which (mostly young) people offer their neighbours help in coping with everyday tasks. At the Wien Museum, of which I am the director, we’ve launched a campaign to collect and display notes of this sort and subsequently add them to the collection of the City of Vienna.

How will the pandemic change the world? What do you see as long-term consequences of the crisis?

Naturally, there is still no telling what many of the consequences will be. But it does seem clear that forms of government based on scientific expertise will be reinforced by the crisis. Populism may be appealing at the polls, but when it comes to global crises, such short-sighted approaches don’t help much. It is also becoming crystal clear again at present that state welfare systems are absolutely essential. And yes, wearing masks is going to be a matter of course in Europe, just as it is in East Asia. 

What worries me is that the EU, yet again, is not playing the role it should be – nowhere near it, in fact. The coronavirus is the epitome of a crisis that does not stop at borders. So this is where we need unified, coordinated strategies. The epidemic absolutely must not lead to a resurgence of the nation-state.

What gives you hope?

That people are showing so much willingness to help out the most vulnerable members of society. There are countless examples and every one of them gives hope. They range from the many small gestures of support in coping with everyday tasks, to the thousands of young people volunteering to help grapple with the crisis. We are also seeing a new form of public etiquette. In the street and in supermarkets, people are more polite and courteous, they’re smiling more and saying “thank you” more often. I sure hope this new friendliness and kindness will continue after the crisis.