Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna (Museum of Fine Arts) - Google Cultural Institute
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is one of the foremost museums in the world, with rich holdings comprising artworks from seven millennia - from Ancient Egypt to the late 18th century. The collections of Renaissance and Baroque art are of particular importance.The KHMs extensive holdings are on show at different locations:The main building on Ringstrasse houses the Picture Gallery, the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection, the Coin Collection, and the Kunstkammer that will reopen in February 2012.
Other collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum are housed in the Neue Burg (the Collection of Historical Musical Instruments, the Collection of Arms and Armour, and the Ephesus Museum), in Hofburg Palace (the Treasury), and in Schoenbrunn Palace (the Collection of Historical Carriages)
The collections on show at Ambras Palace are also part of the holdings of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. 2001the Museum of Ethnology on Heldenplatz and the Austrian Theatre Museum on Lobkowitz Square have been incorporated into the KHM.
The Planning of the Ringstrasse began in 1857 and included the project to bring together and show the imperial collections in a grand new building featuring state-of-the-art technical and display facilities; it took, however, another ten years until the competition to design the new museums was actually held. The architects who participated in 1867 were Hansen, Lehr, Ferstel and Hasenauer, all of whom worked in Vienna. When jury and patron failed for months to agree on a winner, Gottfried Semper, the internationally-renowned architect known for his museum designs, was called in as an advisor in 1868. The Emperor then decided to commission Semper to alter and complete the plans initially presented by Hasenauer. He also enlarged them. His designs were informed by urban planning in ancient Rome to create what was known as the imperial forum: He envisaged an additional also symmetrical - pair of buildings aligned with the two museums, each of which featured a semi-circular facade. These two buildings were to flank the Hofburg's Leopoldinische Trakt (the wing of the old palace erected under Emperor Leopold) for which Semper planned a modern facade and that would house the throne room. However, only the two museums and the part of the Neue Burg (new palace) facing the Burggarten (palace garden) were realised. Work on the museums commenced in 1871 and twenty years later, in 1891, they were formally opened to the public. Semper had moderated Hasenauer original design for the fa=E7ades and they now feature a complex art-historical programme of sculptures and reliefs. The building's internal structure combines two architectural traditions: entrance hall, staircase and cupola hall form a dramatic unit that celebrates the imperial patron and his predecessors. An additional elegant feature is the circular opening in the ceiling of the entrance hall that offers visitors their first glimpse of the cupola hall. Ascending the stairs, visitors pass Antonio Canova's "Theseus Slaying the Centaur" on their way to the cupola hall, the apex of imperial display. Along this central axis a wealth of neo-baroque decorations create one of the most solemn and splendid interiors of late-nineteenth-century Vienna, probably unrivalled in any other European museum.
For further information see: Caecilia Bischoff, The Kunsthistorisches Museum. History, Arcitecture, Decoration, Vienna 2010