Kunsthistorisches Museum  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Kunsthistorisches Museum (English: "Museum of Art History") in Vienna, housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, crowned with an octagonal dome, is one of the premier museums of fine arts and decorative arts in the world. The term Kunsthistorisches Museum applies to both the institution and the main building.

It was opened in 1891 at the same time as the Naturhistorisches Museum, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have identical exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Both buildings were built between 1872 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, making it a spectacular work of art in its own right.


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 Rudolf II (the largest part of which is, however, scattered), and the collection of paintings of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm.

Affiliated with the Vienna museum, and officially part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, are the collections in the Neue Hofburg. These include the:

  • Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer (Imperial Hunting and Armoury Treasury, the collection of arms and armour);
  • Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente (the collection of old music instruments);
  • Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology, affiliated in 2001);
  • Ephesos-Museum;
  • Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury);
  • Lipizzaner-Museum in the Stallburg;
  • the Austrian Theatre Museum; and the
  • Wagenburg und Monturdepot (The Museum of Imperial Carriages and Department of Court Uniforms, in an auxiliary building at Schloss Schönbrunn.

A branch office is located at Schloss Ambras in Innsbruck. Overall, the collection is one of the largest and most important collections in the world.

Among the most important works in the picture gallery are:

  • Jan van Eyck: "Cardinal Niccolò Albergati" ("Kardinal Niccoló Albergati"), 1438
  • Albrecht Dürer: "Adoration of the Trinity" (Anbetung der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit), 1511
  • Giuseppe Arcimboldo: "Summer" (Sommer), 1563
  • Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio: "Madonna of the Rosary" (Die Rosenkranzmadonna) 1606/07
    • "The Crowning with Thorns"
    • "David with the Head of Goliath"
  • Peter Paul Rubens: "Ildefonso Altar" (Der Altar des hl. Ildefonso), 1630-32
    • "The Fur" (Das Pelzchen), 1638
  • Raphael: "Madonna in Green" (Madonna im Grünen), 1506
  • Johannes Vermeer: "The Artist in his Studio" (Die Malkunst), 1665/66
  • Pieter Brueghel the Elder:
    • "The Fight Between Carnival and Lent" (Kampf zwischen Fasching und Fasten), 1559
    • "Children's Games" (Kinderspiele), 1560
    • "The Tower of Babel" (Turmbau zu Babel), 1563
    • "The Procession to Calvary" (Kreuztragung Christi), 1564
    • "The Gloomy Day (Feb.-Ma.)" (Düsterer Tag (Vorfrühling)), 1565
    • "The Return of the Herd (Oct.-Nov.)" (Heimkehr der Herde (Herbst)), 1565
    • "The Hunters in the Snow (Dec.-Jan.)" (Jäger im Schnee (Winter)), 1565
    • "The Peasant and the Nest Robber" (Bauer und Vogeldieb), 1568
    • "The Peasant Wedding" (Bauernhochzeit), 1568/69
    • "The Peasant Dance" (Bauerntanz), 1568/69

The Kunsthistorisches Museum appears in considerable detail in the final mission of the computer game Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, developed by Illusion Softworks.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Kunsthistorisches Museum" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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