I never thought I was a huge museum person, but in reality that was only because I had never gone to a proper museum.
Vienna offered me a new perspective on what museums should actually be like: I learned that the tone each exhibition portrays their pieces with gives the audience a certain impression, that the surroundings and placement of each piece of art can affect how they are viewed, that art works can elicit certain emotions just because of their colours or their brush strokes, and that there is an absolute mystique and mystery behind artifacts from centuries ago.
I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on such an experience, especially one which will leave you excited to visit other museums around the globe.
So which museums should you make sure not to miss out on while in Vienna?
The Belvedere museum was not always a museum. When it was built in the early eighteenth century, it was envisioned as a palace.
Differentated as the “Upper Belvedere” and the “Lower Belvedere”, these structures were for two different purposes.
- The Upper Belvedere served the purpose of prestige and display
- The Lower Belvedere was a residence
Over time, these two Belvedere palaces were adapted into a gallery and a museum and now house the world’s greatest collection of Austrian art.
The Upper Belvedere
At present, the Upper Belvedere houses the permanent, and in my opinion, most noteworthy and impressive, collections. These collections are made up of art by Austrian and international artists, such as Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Gustav Klimt.
The highlight of the permanent collection of this museum is that is houses the world’s largest collection of Klimt’s paintings.
The most famous piece of his work is titled The Kiss (Lovers). This painting dates back to the early 1900s and depicts a couple embracing one another in a flowery meadow.
The Lower Belvedere
The Lower Belvedere houses the temporary exhibitions and focuses on presenting Austrian art in an international context.
This section of the museum also houses a Medieval Treasury which gives insight into medieval art.
Interesting piece of information: I was confused why there were some paintings which could be photographed, while others in the same room could not. The staff explained this to me, saying that it was either because:
- The artist had asked that they not be photographed
- It had not yet been 70 years since the artist’s passing
The smallest and newest addition to the Belvedere galleries, the Belvedere 21 houses temporary contemporary art exhibitions and is a platform for the local art scene.
Daily from 9:00am – 6:00pm
Upper Belvedere: 16€ adult
Lower Belvedere: 14€ adult
Belvedere 21: 8€ adult
Belvedere ticket: 25€ adult
Annual ticket: 39€ adult
For more information on tickets, visit the Belvedere website, here.
TIP: go early to beat the crowds and not wait in linespeaking from experience
The Kunsthistorisches museum was opened around 1891 and is the largest art museum in Austria.
It was commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph I in order to find a suitable place for the art collection of the Habsburgs, one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. It was the Emperor’s hope that it would be made accessible to the public.
The museum is stunning
The museum is, in itself, a piece of art. With its great columns, extravagant windows and ceilings, and exquisite details, you’ll be in awe no matter where you are.
Don’t believe me? Take a look:
Egyptian and near Eastern collection
The Kunsthistorisches houses one of the world’s most important collections of Egyptian antiquities.
There are over 17,000 artifacts which are divided into 4 areas:
- funerary cult
- cultural history
- sculpture and relief
- the development of writing
Collection of Greek and Roman antiquities
The objects within this collection are most impressive and span over a period of three millennia!
Temporary exhibitions also come and go at the Kunsthistorisches. At present, there is one showcasing Mark Rothko’s works. Mark Rothko was an American artist and an Abstract Expressionist. His work made New York a centre of modern art.
Sunday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Tuesday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Wednesday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Thursday: 10:00am – 9:00pm
Friday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Entrance ticket: 16€
For more information, check out the museum’s website here.
Have you been to any museums that have blown you away? Which ones were they?
For more adventures in Vienna, click the following link.