Ringstrasse: Kunsthistoriches Museum

Kunsthistoriches Museum
I thought it something of a surprise that , proportional to the number of tourists in Vienna, the Kunsthistoriches Museum (let’s just call it KHM) seemed relatively less popular than the Louvre in Paris, although there are distinct parallels. Both house stunning collections of art, both have great displays of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. OK, the KHM isn’t as large and hasn’t featured in any well-known stories, but it is up there with the best and certainly deserves to feature on the “must visit” list of all visitors to Vienna.

Not only are the collections stunning, so is the building itself (and, no doubt, also the matching Naturhistorisches Museum facing it across the park). Both opened in 1891, but it is the KHM which now draws the attention. It was raining when we visited, so we didn’t linger to admire the outside façade and details (main photo). Step inside though, and be amazed at the richness of the marble columns and the painted ceiling in the central atrium area (vertical panorama, photo 2) with its ‘trompe d’oeil’ effect.

Then stroll through the Egyptian antiquities section on the ground floor (photo 3) and you’ll be overwhelmed. That feeling continues as you visit the Roman antiquities collection. As enthusiastic collectors, the Hapsburgs also gathered a vast array of carved ivory: the quality of some of the work is ethereal (photo 4), though I must admit being quite uncomfortable about the slaughter of wildlife necessary to have produced it.

Finally, the art collection is world famous, and justly so, with a huge array of works by Rembrandt, Raphael, Caravaggio, Bruegel, Van Dyck… and on it goes! (photo 5). What’s more, apart from a ban on using flash or tripods, there is no restriction on photography – our Australian galleries might well care to take note!

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  • Directions: On the Ringstrasse in the Museum Quarter




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