The Kunsthistorisches Museum is the most important museum in Vienna, it was built for the collections of the Habsurgs close to the Hofburg. The Picture Gallery has the world's largest Bruegel collection and with numerous principal works of art, among them Raphael's "Madonna in the Green", Vermeer's paintings, the pictures of Velazquez, masterpieces of Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Tizian and Tintoretto. There is also the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection, the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the Kunstkammer and the Coin Collection.
The Kunstkammer with rarities from the former treasure and wonder chamber of the Habsburgs was reopened in March 2013. One of the most collections in the world, showing exhibits from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Additional, with the same ticket, in the Neue Burg (part of the Hofburg, entrance Heldenplatz) is the Collection of Arms and Armour, Collection of Historic Musical Instruments and the Ephesos Museum.
June to August
Daily, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Thu, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
September to May
Tue – Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Thu, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
WOW ... The Habsburg dynasty had incredible taste in art. This stunning museum built in the late 1890's houses the Imperial collection. And what a collection it is.
First, 15 euro's admission price ... trust me well worth it.
Second, come with time. Wow .. this place is HUGE !!!!!!!! we rushed thru it and took almost 2 1/2 hours. Well truth be told we were kicked out since they were closing ... if not we still be there.
As for the collection, I don't recall seeing so many Rubens and Rembrandt all in one place, not in the Lourve, the MET or the Riksmusuem. This collection is impressive to say the least.
They also have one of the 34 known Vermeer's that exist today ... The Art of Painting. STUNNING.
Not to be lost is all the Egyptian artifacts, the royal collection of religious stuff.
I can go on and on, no question this ranks as one of the top 10 museums in the World.
Highly recommend it ..... A MUST SEE AND DO.
Kunsthistorisches Museum is one of the 2 best museums in Vienna, not only for the great collections that you will see there, but also for the great architecture of the building, that once belonged to the Hofburg and the royal court of the Austrian empire. Collections of paintings and other works of art were quite common at a royal court and many of the exhibits of today had been given as a donation by other emperors who visited Vienna in former times.
In order to see the best parts of the building, you have to get inside and pay for the entrance. Photography is no problem, you simply are not allowed to use a flash or tripod.
the most beautiful parts of the building are certainly the giant entrance-hall and the high dome with a restaurant / cafe underneath.
You are able to enter the cafe ONLY when you pay the entrance-fee for the museum !
KUNSTHISTORISCHES was much better than Schonbrunn and Hofburg, because the museum rooms, although not having as much gilt are wonderfully displayed and give an amazing sense of how the royals collected things from all over the world at the height of their powers.
The iPads are worth reading they really explain some interesting facts. This must also be the only museum too, where there's plenty of seating, to sit and look or rest your feet.
Definitely stop for a drink or more in the cafe, the domed room must be the main st elaborate cafe in all of Vienna, the lunch prices are good too,surprisingly, 11e and lower.
The Egyptian, painting and Kunstkammer rooms were the best, we thought it would take an hour and bit but stayed 3 it was so interesting, from gilded battle ship models to exotic glass studed sculptures.
Actually the KHM Vienna groups 8 museums in Vienna (6) and outside (2):
1° KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM, the most important located at A-1010 Wien, Maria Theresien-Platz in the magnificent building from the end of the 19th c. (photo 1). See my review : KHM Architecture
This museum has FIVE departments:
- Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection .
- Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities (renovated museography) on the ground floor called "Hochparterre". See my review Greek-Roman Antiquities.
- The Gemäldegalerie - Picture Gallery on the first floor gets visitors from all over the world who come to see the most famous Bruegel the Elder collection. See my reviews : Paintings, Gemäldegalerie, P. Bruegel collection, Best of P. Bruegel, Bruegel Children's Games .
- The Coin Cabinet on the second floor .
- The Kunstkammer - Collection of Sculpture and Decorative Arts (ground floor) is presently closed. (See my tip from 2007 Kunstkammer) .
2° NEUE BURG at A-1010 Vienna, Heldenplatz, the second important KHM museum is a monumental wing of the Vienna Hofburg (photo 2) .
The Neue Burg museum has THREE departments :
- Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer presents magnificent suits of armour and ceremonial arms, one of the best and largest collections in the world. See my review Suits of armour.
- Collection of Ancient Musical Instruments .
- Ephesus Museum .
3° The Museum of Ethnology - Museum für Völkerkunde .
A-1010 Vienna, Neue Burg .
4° Austrian Theatre Museum .
Lobkowitzplatz 2, A-1010 Wien .
5° Museum of Carriages and Department of Court Uniforms .
A-1130 Vienna Schloß Schönbrunn .
6° Treasury .
Schweizerhof, A-1010 Vienna, Hofburg .
7° The Theseus Temple in Vienna's Volksgarten. See my review Theseus temple
8° Ambras Castle .
A-6020 Innsbruck, Schloss Straße 20 .
The KHM museums counted 1.3 million visitors in 2007. It is for Austria what Le Louvre is for France.
I would suggest to amateurs of art who are in Vienna only for a short stay not to miss the Kunsthistorisches Museum at the Maria Theresien-Platz. It is much better than the Hofburg; between Sissi and the Gemäldegalerie there is no hesitation possible.
Now a few practical informations about the two principal museums:
The KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM, with the paintings gallery (Maria Theresien-Platz) is open from 10 - 18 h from Tuesday till Sunday (Thursday till 21 h). Closed on Monday.
Open each day from June to August.
There are files. Actually there are two ticket offices (19th c. style) but it happens that visitors are queuing only at the one on the right, so check by pushing the left "Eintritt" door if that ticket office is open.
The décor of the cafeteria under the cupola is amazing; this is the most beautiful museum cafeteria in Europe ! See : Cafetaria
Price (2014): full 14€, with the "Wien-Karte" 13€, reduced11€ (for 27 yr & >65 yr). Cloak room is included. Audioguide 4€. The ticket is valid for the KHM collections at the Neue Burg.
Free 19 yr.
NEUE BURG, Heldenplatz, with the suits of armour and arms collection, is open from Wednesday till Sunday from 10 to 18 h. (Closed Monday and Tuesday). No lines .
Price (2015): full 14€, reduced 11€ (for 27 yr & >65). Free 19 yr. Cloak room included. Audioguide 4€.
For all amateurs of Pieter Bruegel the Elder the room X of the Paint gallery at the KHM, located in one of the imperial palaces near the Hofburg, is an absolute must. The museum has 14 paintings of P. Bruegel the Elder, i.e. the third of his paintings known about the world!
Among these fourteen some of the most remarkable as The Tower of Babel, The Fight of Carnival and Lent, the Peasants Dance, The Peasant Wedding and especially the most beautiful, the purest, the most intense of the works of P. Bruegel " Hunters in the Snow" To go to Vienna without having seen Bruegel it is as going to Paris without seeing La Joconde in Le Louvre. But contrary to the room of the Louvre with Mona Lisa, visitors are not bumping into each other in room X of the KHM of Vienna.
A relation having visited the KHM asked me (it was the time of the action in justice against the Austrian State about the Klimt's) if Belgium, which has only six P. Bruegel the Elder, did not wish the return of the Bruegel's to Brussels where the painter lived and died (1569). I would certainly like to see more Bruegel's in the Museum of the Fine Arts in Brussels but these paintings were offered by the city of Antwerp to the archduke Ernest in 1594, the others were bought in total legality. Furthermore if Belgium began demanding the return of all the works of the Flemish painters worldwide she would not have enough walls to hang them on and numerous museums in the world would have empty rooms. And last but not least, numerous persons worldwide know Belgium only by her painters. Let the Bruegel's stays in Vienna, it is a pleasure to see them in a beautiful surrounding such as the KHM and the town of Vienna.
The gallery of paintings of the Kunsthistorisches Museum results from the project of a private imperial collection and is the reflection of the taste of the various member collectors of the dynasty of Habsburg, mainly the emperor Rodolphe II and the archdukes Ferdinand II and Leopold Guillaume. This archduke is the greatest paint collector of his 17th century. Thanks to him the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna became a museum of an essential importance as regards the Flemish and Venetian Schools.
One will notice that this collection is geographically limited to the countries which had narrow links with the Habsburg i.e. Germany, the South of Netherlands (Belgium) the North of Italy and Spain but that France and Holland, with whom Austria had tense relations, are only weakly represented. It would be vain to review the painters and the works of this grand collection of the 15th to the 18th centuries. The collection of Pieter Bruegel the Elder is unequalled and is worth by itself the journey to Vienna. Furthermore there are Van der Weyden, Dürer, Jordaens, Rubens, Van Dyck, Titien, Tintoret, Veronese, Canaleto, Velasquez and many others. One of my favourite paintings, besides the Bruegels, is the" Alegorie of Painting" of Vermeer who was acquired in 1945. I find extraordinary that sixty years ago one could still buy a Vermeer!
For all amateurs of Pieter Bruegel the Elder the room X of the Paint gallery at the KHM, is an absolute must. The museum has 14 paintings of P. Bruegel the Elder, i.e. the third of his paintings known about the world! Among these 14 some of the most remarkable as "the Tower of Babel", "the Fight of Carnival and Lent", "the Peasants Dance", "The Peasant Wedding" (an ancestor of mine was present) and especially the most beautiful, the purest, the most intense of the works of P. Bruegel " Hunters in the Snow".
TO GO TO VIENNA WITHOUT HAVING SEEN THE BRUEGELS IS AS GOING TO PARIS WITHOUT SEEING LA JOCONDE/MONA LISA.
When facing a painting of P. Bruegel one first looks at all the picture and then starts looking at the details. That takes time. I have seen an amateur of Bruegel standing a quarter of an hour in front of the "Hunters in the Snow" (My wife and I use to sit for long periods on the sofa facing this marvelous painting).
Now if you are standing in front of an "encyclopedia" picture like "Children's Games" with 230 children playing 83 different games you need even more time to decipher at least some of them! We did and what was funny is that we found some games we had been playing in Brussels on the street when we were kids. Amazing to find out that games from 1560 were still played by us around 1950. (That Brussels of the time where Brussels "bruxellait" - speaking the Brussels' dialect - according to composer and singer Jacques Brell does not exist anymore. The autochthones have left the city.)
This type of composition has no parallel or precedent, except the "Flemish (or Dutch) Proverbs" also from P. Bruegel at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
On my last visit to the Bruegel's I got stuck by the fact that the persons in the paintings of Bruegel never look in the direction of the painter like they do with many other painters.
They live their own life, eat, drink, dance, play, come back from hunt and don't mind that Bruegel and now we, five centuries later, are observing them often with a lot of curiosity.
When I see a group of Asiatic tourists observing my ancestors at the "Peasants Dance", I wonder if they think that this is still the way we live in Belgium!
Museums always take a fair amount of time to look at, such a shame when I only have limited time to see Vienna.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum has an impressive number of collections that includes a huge collection amassed by the Habsburgs and other collections from Ancient Egypt to the late 18th century. The collections are of Renaissance and Baroque art, Greek and Roman Antiquities and Coin Collection.
The Museum was opened around 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.
I have seen photos of the interior of this building, and for me, that is just as impressive as the Museum collection itself! The interior is described as spectacular, has large marble columns, monumental staircases and statues, and many murals.
The exterior is impressive too!
The Kunsthistorisches façade features famous European artists.
OPENING HOURS & ADMISSION PRICES
The museum of fine arts is the best of a city of really good museums. It includes many works of the masters collected by the Hapsburg Emperor over time, a collection of antquities and many historical views of Vienna
The collection of paintings of the KHM "Gemäldegalerie" with works from the 15th c. till the 18th c., on the first floor, is divided by the monumental staircase in two wings:
The Italian, Spanish and French paintings in Rooms I till VII and 1 till 13.
Here you will find mainly Venetian paintings (Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, Canaletto), Raphael, Caravaggio and Italian Baroque painters, plus a number of Velasquez pictures.
The Flemish, Dutch and German schools are in Rooms IX till XV and 14 till 24.
Here are on display masterworks from the "Flemish Primitives" school (Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Gerard David), the 17th-century Flemish painters (Peter Paul Rubens , Antoon Van Dyck) a good collection of Dutch 17th c. paintings with a Vermeer the "Allegory of Painting" (photo 4), fine marine paintings like the "Statenjacht op de IJ" from L. Backhuizen, and German Renaissance paintings (Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach).
But, of course, it is the worldwide unique collection of 14 paintings of P. BRUEGEL the ELDER, i.e. the third of his paintings known about the world that moves visitors from all over the world to Room X of the KHM.
Among these fourteen some of the most remarkable as "The Peasant Wedding" (photo 1), "The Peasants Dance", "The Tower of Babel" (photo 2), "The Fight of Carnival and Lent", and especially the most beautiful, the purest, the most intense of the works of P. Bruegel "Hunters in the Snow"(photo 3).
Visiting the whole Paintings gallery needs 3 - 4 hours.
The larger rooms are comfortable with sofas so that you can sit in front of your preferred works to admire them at length (photo 5). Fortunately even in the Bruegel room the visitors are not bumping into each other.
If you are short in time I would suggest to start with the Flemish and Dutch part in Rooms IX, 14 and following, as this is the best part of the museum, at least in my opinion.
Open: Tuesday - Sunday 10 - 18 h (Thursday 10 - 21 h).
Price (2013): 14 €, Vienna card 13 €, 27 yr & > 65 yr 11 €.
Free 19 yr.
The ticket is also valid for the KHM collections at the Neue Burg.
On my first visit to the KHM around 1968 I didn't mind about the architecture.
I was on a business trip and had only 15 minutes between two appointments to run to room X to see the Bruegels.
Since then (4 more visits) I take all my time to admire entrance hall, staircase and cupola hall.
Ascending the stairs, visitors pass Antonio Canova’s most pictured "Theseus Slaying the Centaur" on their way to the cupola hall among a wealth of neo-baroque decorations.
You know that I love Le Louvre, Paris but the Pyramid is peanuts compared to the imperial display of this central part of the KHM, Vienna.
No other European museum can rival with the entrance of the KHM and none museum - in the world? - has a cafeteria in such a magnificent décor.
My wife and I felt less enthusiast about the food. The sandwiches were good but minuscule, the pastries "strudel" could have been better but the service was very kind (maybe because we tried to speak German).
But these remarks lost any significance when looking around us (ref. my photos). As we stayed the whole day at the KHM we had a sandwich at 12 h (before the affluence, the cafeteria has not so many tables) and pastry and coffee around 15 h.
It was my intention to write here some info about the architecture of the KHM but you can find all that on the website of the KHM. No need to be redundant.