Kunsthistorisches Museum

Vienna, Austria

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome. It is the largest art museum in the country.

It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Naturhistorisches Museum, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have similar exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Both buildings were built between 1871 and 1891 according to plans drawn up by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer.

The two Ringstraße museums were commissioned by the Emperor in order to find a suitable shelter for the Habsburgs' formidable art collection and to make it accessible to the general public. The façade was built of sandstone. The building is rectangular in shape, and topped with a dome that is 60 meters high. The inside of the building is lavishly decorated with marble, stucco ornamentations, gold-leaf, and paintings.

The museum's primary collections are those of the Habsburgs, particularly from the portrait and armour collections of Ferdinand of Tirol, the collections of Emperor Rudolph II and the collection of paintings of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, of which his Italian paintings were first documented in the Theatrum Pictorium.

Notable works in the picture gallery include masterpieces from Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, Tintoretto, Rembrandt, Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rupens.

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Address

Burgring 5, Vienna, Austria
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Details

Founded: 1891
Category: Museums in Austria

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

S.C. K. (2 years ago)
In my opinion a must-see for tourists and locals. The museum itself is a piece of art, one of the most beautiful and impressive buildings in Vienna (from the in-and outside). Take a look and have a coffee&cake in the "Kaffeehaus" inside the museum. You won't regret a visit!
Robin Singaroyan (2 years ago)
What's unique about this museum is the building. During the time of the built no expense was spared permitting the architects to employ the best, get the best material and make this building a gem for the centuries to follow! Building something like this would be impossible now as no government would be permitted to spend so lavishly! The artifacts are equally good and diverse. You could spend an afternoon just admiring the ceilings! Even the cafe in the building is a work of art.. Been here twice and will likely be back!
AB S (2 years ago)
THE MUSEUM! You really have to see it! The Louvres in comparison is half way... They have such an incredible amount of marvels, treasure and masterpieces! It's just incredible they are not more famous! All the masterpieces seen in books or TV since always are there.
Natalia K (2 years ago)
It has always been an amazing experience. Every time I enter those halls I find something new to see, even if considering that I was there many times before. It takes many hours to examine those fantastic art objects.
Aakshi Wadhwa (2 years ago)
No doubt exceptionally beautiful and very well curated. But you need at least 5 hours to see everything properly. And the cafe inside is superb. Amazing food . I am a vegetarian so generally everywhere else less options always and average food. Though not much veg options, but the vital wrap I had was really yum.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.