Monday, October 12, 2015

Vienna - Art History Museum and Imperial Treasury

The Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) was built in 1891 near the Imperial Palace to house the extensive collections of the imperial family. With its vast array of works and the largest Bruegel collection in the world, it is considered one of the most eminent museums in the world. The architectural mirror image of the KHM is the Museum of Natural History on the opposite side - we didn't visit that museum though.

Even before we get to the collection housed by this museum, it's important to note that the building was commissioned as a museum to begin with - very different from all major museums across the world that were usually palaces to begin with and were later converted to museums. 
The inside of the building is lavishly decorated with marble, stucco ornamentations, gold-leaf, and of course, paintings. Looks like no expenses were spared to find a suitable shelter for the Habsburgs' formidable art collection. 
Paintings gallery houses numerous major art works of European art history like Raphael’s "Madonna in the Meadow," Vermeer’s "The Allegory of Painting," the Infanta paintings by Velazquez and masterworks by Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian and Tintoretto. 

Cafe inside the museum

The Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection contains fascinating treasures from mysterious cultures long past. The Kunstkammer Vienna (Chamber of art and wonders) displays precious artworks from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque era. 
As with any museum, no  matter how much time one spends, it is simply never enough, so after a few hours, we decided to head to the Imperial Treasury. It is located at the Hofburg palace and contains a valuable collection of secular and ecclesiastical treasures covering over a thousand years of European history. The entrance to the treasury is at the Schweizerhof (Swiss Courtyard), the oldest part of the palace. 

The Imperial Treasury is affiliated with the KHM and hence we could buy a combined ticket for the two of them. The treasury has 21 rooms that houses a  collection of rare treasures compiled by the Imperial House of Habsburg over the course of centuries. The notable treasures include the Imperial Crown, Orb, and Sceptre of Austria. It also has the Imperial Regalia of the Emperors and Kings of the Holy Roman Empire, including the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire.

The lighting inside the treasury is very controlled and flash photography is not allowed, so again I decided to skip the photography and focused on enjoying the lavish and historical displays instead. It took us little over an hour to finish the tour - to be honest one would need more time to look at all the treasures but we were tired so we wrapped it up much quicker. 

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