Kunsthistorisches Museum

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Kunsthistorisches Museum
Maria-Theresien-Platz Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien 2010.jpg
Austria Vienna location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Vienna
LocationMaria Theresien Platz Vienna, Austria
Coordinates 48°12′13″N16°21′42″E / 48.2037°N 16.3618°E / 48.2037; 16.3618 Coordinates: 48°12′13″N16°21′42″E / 48.2037°N 16.3618°E / 48.2037; 16.3618
Type Art Museum
Visitors1,745,070 (2019) [1]
DirectorSabine Haag (since 2009)
Architect Karl Hasenauer, Gottfried Semper
Website www.khm.at
Rotunda Kunsthistorisches Museum Interior.JPG
Madonna of the Meadow by Raphael, 1506 Raphael - Madonna in the Meadow - Google Art Project.jpg
Madonna of the Meadow by Raphael, 1506
Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1563 Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Tower of Babel (Vienna) - Google Art Project - edited.jpg
Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1563
Summer, by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1563 Arcimboldo, Giuseppe Summer.jpg
Summer , by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1563
Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress by Velazquez Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez - Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress - Google Art Project.jpg
Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress by Velázquez
Sculptures at staircase Sculptures at staircase Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna.jpg
Sculptures at staircase

The Kunsthistorisches Museum (lit. "Museum of Art History", also often referred to as the "Museum of Fine Arts") is an art museum in Vienna, Austria. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome. The term Kunsthistorisches Museum applies to both the institution and the main building. It is the largest art museum in the country and one of the most important museums worldwide.


Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary opened the facility around 1891 at the same time as the Natural History Museum, Vienna which has a similar design and is directly across Maria-Theresien-Platz. [2] The two buildings were constructed between 1871 and 1891 according to plans by Gottfried Semper and Baron Karl von Hasenauer. The emperor commissioned the two Ringstraße museums to create a suitable home for the Habsburgs' formidable art collection and to make it accessible to the general public. The buildings are rectangular in shape, with symmetrical Renaissance Revival façades of sandstone lined with large arched windows on the main levels and topped with an octagonal dome 60 metres (200 ft) high. The interiors of the museums are lavishly decorated with marble, stucco ornamentation, gold-leaf and murals. The grand stairway features paintings by Gustav Klimt, Ernst Klimt, Franz Matsch, Hans Makart and Mihály Munkácsy. [3]


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 (the largest part of which is, however, scattered), 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:

The collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum:



Also affiliated are the:

Nazi-looted art

In 2010 an Austrian government panel recommended that the Kunsthistorisches Museum should restitute two altar panels by the 16th-century Dutch artist, Maerten van Heemskerck to the heirs of Richard Neumann, a Jewish art collector in Vienna plundered by the Nazis. [4]

In 2015 a dispute over a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559) erupted between Poland and Austria. Poland presented evidence that the painting had been seized by Charlotte von Wächter, the wife of Krakow's Nazi governor Otto von Wächter, during the German occupation of Poland. [5] The Kunsthistorisches Museum, insisted that it had owned the painting since the 17th century, and that the artwork seized by von Wächter in 1939 "was a different painting". [6]

Recent events

One of the museum's most important objects, the Cellini Salt Cellar sculpture by Benvenuto Cellini, was stolen on 11 May 2003 and recovered on 21 January 2006, in a box buried in a forest near the town of Zwettl. It was featured in an episode of Museum Secrets on the History Channel. It had been the greatest art theft in Austrian history. [7]

The museum is the subject of Johannes Holzhausen's documentary film The Great Museum (2014), filmed over two years in the run up to the re-opening of the newly renovated and expanded Kunstkammer rooms in 2013.

From October 2018 through January 2019 the museum hosted the world's largest-ever exhibition of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder called Bruegel – Once in a Lifetime. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

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<i>The Gloomy Day</i> Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

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<i>The Peasant and the Nest Robber</i> Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

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<i>The Wedding Dance</i> Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

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<i>Theatrum Pictorium</i>

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<i>Massacre of the Innocents</i> (Bruegel) Paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Several oil-on-oak-panel versions of The Massacre of the Innocents were painted by 16th-century Netherlandish painters Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger. The work translates the Biblical account of the Massacre of the Innocents into a winter scene in the Netherlands in the prelude to the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule, also known as the Eighty Years' War.


  1. "Bundesmuseen: Die meisten Besucher in KHM, Belvedere und Albertina" [Federal museums: Most visitors go to the KHM, Belvedere and Albertina]. Der Standard (in German). Vienna. Austria Press Agency. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  2. The Office of the High Chamberlain (31 December 1906). Guide to the Treasury of the Imperial House of Austria . Vienna: A. Holzhausen. p. 12.
  3. Czerny, Ernst (2012). "Gustav Klimt and Egyptian Art. Paintings in the staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum". Egypt and Austria VII. Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. ISBN   978-8073312473.
  4. Hickley, Catherine. "Austria Urges Return of Altar Panels to Jewish Heir". www.lootedart.com. Bloomberg. Retrieved 2021-04-07. A passionate collector, Neumann amassed more than 200 art works in his Vienna villa. He escaped Austria after the Nazi annexation via Switzerland to Paris. When the Nazis occupied France, he fled by foot through the Pyrenees to Spain. From there he reached Cuba, where he settled, and participated in the 1954 founding of an art museum in Havana. He later moved to New York to be with his daughter, and died there in 1961, age 82. Neumann’s artworks were seized by the Nazis, then released shortly afterward to allow a sale to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Neumann’s daughter sold the altar panels in 1938. The money went into a frozen account to pay Neumann’s “emigration tax.”
  5. "Row erupts over £50m Bruegel painting in Nazi looted art claim". Art Law & More. 2015-10-26. Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  6. "$77 Million Bruegel Painting in Nazi Loot Claim". Artnet News. 2015-10-23. Archived from the original on 2015-10-24. Retrieved 2021-04-07. The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, meanwhile, claims that it has owned the painting since the 17th century, and that the artwork seized by von Wächter in 1939 was a different painting.
  7. "Police find stolen £36m figurine". BBC News. 22 January 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  8. "The Best of Bruegel – Only in Vienna". Kunsthistorisches Museum. Retrieved 31 October 2019.