Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum is one of the top places in the Austrian capital city for art-lovers. Located on the famous Ringstrasse, the gorgeous building of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is certainly in good company, with many fine pieces of architecture located around this ring-road.
Open since the early 1890s, it is the biggest art museum in Austria. Its name translates as the Art History Museum and it is home to many interesting works of art.
Stunning building in a beautiful location
Before you even step inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum you are sure to be impressed by the splendour of the building itself. Sitting on one side of Maria-Theresien-Platz (Maria Theresa Square) the elegant building is opposite the identically-looking Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum).
A large memorial, the attractive Maria Theresa Monument, stands between the two glorious buildings. The lively square also has lovely fountains and colourful flower beds.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is a long rectangular building with statues flanked by stately columns and plenty of ornate carvings and details. Topped with a large dome, it’s certainly an impressive piece of architecture.
Ascend the sweeping staircase and admire the interiors
Upon entering the museum, you will find yourself at the bottom of a wide marble staircase that leads up to the different collections. Large statues and sculptures sit at the edges and the top of the staircase, setting the scene for the fabulous collections of art that you will soon encounter.
The walls are inlaid with different coloured marble, and you’ll notice golden edgings and plenty of elaborate touches. Standing proudly at the top of the main staircase is a white statue of a man battling with a mythological beast.
Feast your eyes on the spectacular ceilings, walls, and archways
As you climb the staircase, try to watch your footing – it’s likely that you’ll be too busy gazing at the magnificent painted ceilings and elegant arches to watch where you are walking!
Black and white columns with golden details stand next to arched doorways, with arched alcoves painted with interesting scenes. The lavish ceilings have even more paintings, as well as raised plasterwork and stucco. In the centre you’ll see a large main painting, surrounded by a gilded edge. Called The Triumph of the Renaissance, it was created by a Hungarian artist called Mihaly Munkacsy.
Walk underneath the dome, look upwards and you will see carved figures from throughout Austria’s history, surrounded by angelic and cherubic figures, as well as floral patterns and other attractive decorative touches. Light beams in through the windows, and it’s quite serene to look at, in spite of the cafe located underneath!
Enjoy the diverse collections from around the globe
Originally founded to house the large collection of artwork owned by the Habsburgs (the former imperial family), the Kunsthistorisches Museum boasts extensive collections of art from various places around the world.
Take a trip into the distant past as you wonder at artefacts from ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece. See many faces from Austria’s past peering down at you, their eyes often appearing to follow you around the room, in the portrait gallery. The picture gallery holds numerous works from the 1500s and 1600s, with pieces by well-known artists from that time period such as Rembrandt and Raphael. There are several works by Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and other artists include Jan van Eyck, Diego Velazquez, and Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
The museum has a large collection of coins, and you can visit the historic library too.
Flash photography is not permitted in many areas. But don’t worry if you can’t snap the perfect picture – you can take home some excellent reminders of the beautiful museum from the gift shop.
Admission costs and other useful information
The basic admission price is 15 EUR (approximately 17 USD) per person. You can also rent audio guides for an additional fee. (Fees vary depending on the particular guide that you want – further details are available on the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s website.)
To fully appreciate the Kunsthistorisches Museum, you should plan to spend around four to five hours wandering throughout the different sections. The museum is open later on Thursdays, and you can enjoy art from 10 am right up until it closes at 9 pm. (It closes at 6 pm on other days of the week.) Do note that the museum is not open on Mondays between September and May.
If you love art, you are sure to love the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna! Arrange your trip and prepare to be dazzled!
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