Burgring – Vienna
On the other side of the Burgring there are two so-called Hofmuseen (court museums), open to the public at the end of the 19th century – Kunsthistorisches Museum and Natural History Museum. Huge copper domes and large wings distinguish the two twin buildings designed in a pompous Neo-Renaissance style by Karl von Hasenauer. The master plan was the brainchild of the great Dresden architect, Gottfrieda Sempera, who planned to erect the monumental Kaiserforum, connecting museums with Neue Burg through two triumphal gaps, stretching over the Ringstrasse. The First World War interrupted the project, and the fall of the Empire and the Habsburgs finally put an end to it. Today, museums are separated from the Hofburg by the street noise of the Ringstrasse. They are facing each other, separated by a garden with ornamental shrubs and a monument to Empress Maria Theresa.
Natural History Museum
In many ways, little has changed at the Natural History Museum (naturehistorical Museum) since its opening in the year 1889. While most European cities introduce automated dinosaurs to their collections, ecological topics, etc., commercialization bypassed Vienna. Showcases have over 100 lat, similar to signatures only in German. Localities so distant, like Illyria (currently Slovenia) and Galicia (part of today's Ukraine), they appear there as Austrian territories. Dark glass remembers the times before the industrial revolution, and the stuffed animals turned gray with age. The museum can be of interest today as a kind of museum of museology.
On the ground floor, the minerals are exhibited in the first five rooms in the east wing (I-V), and among them a few noteworthy malachite tiles, a sculpture made of Siberian graphite and a large lump of transparent quartz. In addition to polished marble tiles, images of buildings from the former empire are displayed, that once adorned. There are meteorites in the last room, which fell to Austrian lands at the end of the 19th century, and numerous items made of precious and semi-precious stones.
The palaeontology section is currently unavailable. The exception is the huge X room, decorated with caryatids struggling with amazing monsters. You can see the diplodocus skeleton and various fossils here. The prehistoric section begins in room XI. A statue of Venus of Willendorf was placed in it, undoubtedly the most famous exhibit of the entire museum. This tiny symbol of fertility, a stout female figure with heavy breasts hanging down, it is only a few centimeters high, but it does not fascinate because of its size, but age – has approx 25 000 lat. You can see a copy in the museum. The original is too valuable, to put it on display. A second reproduction is placed next to it, much bigger.
There are tools in the west wing, jewelry and weapons from tombs dating back to the Hallstatt era. There are impressive silver jewelery from Thrace, reconstruction of the funeral chariot from the Iron Age and a collection of human skulls. The only concession to modernity is the Kindersaal Museum at the rear, though you shouldn't count on that, that a dilapidated playroom built in the years 70. will impress children raised on interactive toys.
The zoology department is located on the top floor, which starts with starfish, corals and shells in the east wing, and ends with a pack of bears, cats and monkeys in the western part. For some people, the sight of preserved fish and lizards, jars of snakes and reptiles, and post-dissection frogs can prove to be unbearable.
Palace of the Fair
Standing between the two Hofmuseen, with the Hofburg behind his back, becomes in front of the Fair Palace (Messepalast). Built in the 18th century by Johann Brenhard Fischer von Erlach as barracks, it was significantly expanded after the revolution 1848 r. This extensive complex of buildings was allocated in the years 80. our century for the new Museumsquartier. Proponents of the project hoped to make it an institution similar to the Paris Pompidou Center.
The company of architects Ortner & Ortner won the competition for the reconstruction of the barracks. They were criticized by the press for the plan to liquidate most of the Fischer von Erlach buildings, and the hills of Leseturm, 56-one meter high tower housing the library. Several Viennese politicians joined these voices, expecting to gain the support of the capital's electorate in this way, also not particularly impressed with the architects' ideas. It seems unlikely, by Ortner's plans & Ortner ever entered the implementation phase.
Around the not very elegant courtyard is the Kindermuseum (children's museum; pn.-pt. 8.30-18.00, sb. ind. 10.00-18.00, VII and VIII are closed], presenting temporary exhibitions aimed primarily at children; Architecture Center Vienna (Viennese center of architecture; codz. 11.00-17.00], where it is sometimes worth having a look at the periodic exhibitions of the city's architecture, i Kunstraum Vienna (wt.-pt.14.00-19.00, sb. 11.00-19.00] specializing in installations. A complex plan can help you find these institutions, which you get for free at the main entrance.
The only museum in the Museumsquartier with permanent exhibitions is the Tobacco Museum (Austrian Tobacco Museum), an exhaustive collection of art supplies and equipment related to smoking, located in Klosterhof (entrance from Mariahilferstrasse). Founded by the domestic tobacco industry monopolist, Austria Tobacco, functions in an atmosphere of celebration of tobacco addiction – you can even smoke in the museum. There are no warnings about the harmfulness of cigarettes or a presentation of the darker side of the tobacco industry, instead, a historical anecdote is presented: one of the demands of the Prussian revolutionaries of the year 1848 was to issue a permit to smoke in public places. Among the more interesting exhibits, it is worth mentioning snuffboxes made of gold, agate, ivory, tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl, and lots of pipes, lined up from simple clay copies to the giant pipe from Waldviertel, ornamented monstrosity made in 1910 r. for Emperor Franz Joseph. It took four years, to carve the Battle of Durnkrut in 1278 r., in which Rudolf I of Habsburg defeated the Czech king Otakar II.