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.
It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Natural History Museum, Vienna, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have similar exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Both buildings were built between 1871 and 1891 according to plans drawn up by Gottfried Semper and Baron Karl von Hasenauer. The two Ringstraße museums were commissioned by the emperor in order to find a suitable shelter for the Habsburgs' formidable art collection and to make it accessible to the general public. The buildings are rectangular in shape, and topped with a dome that is 60 meters high. The façade was built of sandstone. The inside of the museums is lavishly decorated with marble, stucco ornamentations, gold-leaf and paintings. The staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is equipped with paintings by Gustav Klimt, Ernst Klimt, Franz Matsch, Hans Makart and Mihály Munkácsy.
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:
One of the museum's most important objects, the Cellini Salt Cellar sculpture by Benvenuto Cellini, was stolen on May 11, 2003 and recovered on January 21, 2006, in a box buried in a forest near the town of Zwettl, Austria. It was featured in an episode of Museum Secrets on the History Channel. It had been the biggest art theft in Austrian history.
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.
Media related to Kunsthistorisches Museum at Wikimedia Commons