The Kunsthistorisches Museum is every art lover’s wildest dream. The museum houses some of the world’s largest collection of art pieces, making it a must-visit when in Vienna Austria!
🏛️ What is the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien?
The Kunsthistorische Museum is the Vienna art history museum. Short it is known as the KHM, which applies to the museum and the Institute. It’s one of the major attractions when in Vienna Austria.
The Vienna art museum is one of the most important museums for fine art in the world. Other notable museums in Europe include the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Louvre in Paris and the Uffizi in Florence.
The museum was commissioned, together with its twin, the Naturhistorisches Museum (short NHM), by the late emperor Franz Joseph. Karl Hasenauer and Gottfried Semper were the architects of both buildings.
The natural history museum is another significant museum with a focus on the universe the evolution of animals, flora, and fauna.
The late emperor built and inaugurated the two museums in honor of the late empress Maria Theresia. She was celebrated for her great school reforms, compulsory schooling for all the children in the Habsburg Monarchies.
The Habsburg were known for their vast art collections and travel trophies. Emperor Franz Joseph opened the museums to the public right after the buildings had been completed in 1889 and in 1891.
The two buildings are identical from the outside, they only differ in looks on the inside. Both are rectangular with an octagonal cupola dome.
Lavish marble, murals and gold leaf decorate the inner entrance and halls of the Kunsthistorische Museum. The staircase was decorated by famous Austrian artists of the time, such as Gustav Klimt and his brother Ernst Klimt.
The Kunsthistorisches is located on the Ringstrasse, the principle road surrounding the city center (Innere Stadt).
Both the Kunsthistorisches (KHM) and the Naturhistorisches (NHM) are located at the large square Marien-Theresien-Platz, facing each other.
The Hofburg palace, the Heldenplatz (hero’s square) and the Volksgarten (large public gardens) are located right opposite the KHM and the NHM museum complex, opposite the Ringstrasse road.
The MUMOK, Leopold Museum and Volkstheater are located on the other side of the KHM and NHM.
🖼️ Permanent Exhibitions
The building has several permanent collections with various attractions that are open to the public:
- Picture Gallery
- Coin Collection
- Roman and Antique Greek Collection
- Near Eastern Egyptian Collection
The Picture Gallery contains Renaissance paintings of some of the most well-known painters in the world. It’s a treasure trove of well curated and most intricate pieces of art that take us on a journey into another time.
The gallery collection includes paintings from painters in the German-speaking areas, from the great Dutch and Flemish artists and the Italian masters.
The first rooms are dedicated to the Austrian and German Renaissance painters. You will find pieces from Albrecht Dürer and Jakob Seisenegger.
Paintings from Dutch and Flemish painters include Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (largest collection in the world) and Johannes Vermeer.
Italian masters such as paintings from Giuseppe Arcimboldo (the four seasons), Raphael (Madonna of the Meadows) and Titian (Suleiman the Magnificent) to just name a few, can be admired in a focused and cultured setting.
Some more well-known painter’s masterpieces displayed include:
- Jan van Eyck
- Diego Velázquez
- Lorenzo Lotto
- Antonello da Messina
The vast coin collection in the upper floors is one of the most notable in the world. Over 60K pieces can be admired.
The Habsburgs accumulated numerous coins and paper moneys, as well as medallions, from various places in the world. This also includes coin pressing and paper printing devices.
The biggest showpiece is the alchemical medallion of Emperor Leopold I.
Countless portrait miniatures of long gone European rulers are part of the exhibition in these halls. These were used for courtship or as memorable among the royal elites.
Roman and Antique Greek Collection
The Greek and roman antiquities exhibits tell a 3000-year-long story.
Near Eastern Egyptian Collection
The near eastern and Egyptian collection is located on the first floor (aka ground floor for non US). It’s one of the largest in the world.
Over 17,000 pieces from various eras, including the first and second dynasty, can be seen in this vast collection.
Some of the most notable must see pieces are the numerous sarcophagi, human and animal mummies as well as the book of the dead.
However, you will also see regular objects that Egyptians used daily. These help us to understand how they lived.
The Kunstkammer Wien is the chamber of art.
It comprises many of the original Habsburg artifacts. It’s a unique hotchpotch of decoration items and former usable personal belongings from near and far.
In here you will discover not only statues and decorative wall hangings, but also some out of the box items such as board games, weapons, ivory carvings and ancient playing cards.
The Langer Puff board game and the Benvenuto Cellini Salt Cellar are some of the most notable pieces in this collection.
☕ Café and Shop
The café in the 2nd floor (1st floor for non US) of the sumptuously rich decorated halls of the KHM, is known as one of the most beautiful places in the world to have a true Vienna coffee.
You can’t miss this experience, especially because Vienna is known for its deep-rooted coffee culture. The Torte cakes are especially tasty in this luxurious environment.
The shop is located at your right when you enter the museum.
In there you will find souvenirs with the most beautiful art pieces decorating cups, shirts and posters. Perhaps you will find a great and unique gift for your loved ones back home.
You will also find books to every topic covered in the museums, as well as board games in various artist themes.
🎫 Tickets and Visiting Times
Day ticket prices:
- Adults €18
- Seniors and students €15 (with a senior or student card only)
- Kids up to 19 free of charge
The yearly ticket, which also includes other museums, costs only €49. This includes the imperial Treasury in Vienna as well as the Ambras castle in Innsbruck among many others.
The KHM is open to the public from 10 am to 6pm daily, except Thursdays they open their doors until 9 pm.
- Buy tickets online earlier. Queues at the ticketing counter are not uncommon in peak season.
- You have to keep your bags in a locker. Bring some coins with you for the lockers. Keep your coats and hats there too.
- You can’t bring knifes or any pointy objects into the museum. The security check will take it away.
- Museums are to be enjoyed without much noise. Respect other visitors.
- You can get to the KHM by public transport. Take the subway line U3 and get out at the Volkstheater station.
- The first Saturday in October is the long night of museums in Austria. On that day, you can visit a set of museums for free in Austria.
- You can get into the KHM and many other museums in Vienna for free with the Vienna Pass.
- If you want to visit all collections on that day, plan at least 6 hours to see everything. If you don’t have that much time, pick your favorite exhibits.