Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum), Vienna

Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum), Vienna (must see)

Fuel up with a cup of coffee or tea and head to one of the world-class museums along the Ring. The Kunsthistorisches Museum's galleries house vast collections of fine art and antiquities, based largely on those accumulated over the centuries by generations of Habsburg monarchs. Lavishly decorated interiors, ornate cupolas and sweeping Neo-Classical stairways create a fitting setting for the treasures housed here, with many of the works on display – particularly the Old Masters (Bruegel, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Titian, etc.) – being considered among the most spectacular in the world. Not only that, but the museum is among the most visitor-friendly you're likely to visit, with comfortable sofas available in most exhibition rooms and long closing hours on Thursdays.

The galleries occupy the top three floors (although the uppermost is not nearly as extensive), with an entrance hall, shop and cloakroom below. The ground floor contains ancient objects on one side – starting with the age of the Pharaohs in Egypt, then proceeding through ancient Greece and Rome while touching on other cultures along the way – which are joined by rare Renaissance and Baroque treasures collected by and/or made for the Hapsburg monarchs on the other side. The quality and quantity of the material presented is simply astounding, but items are generally labeled simply in German, so you'll want to spring for the audio guide (available in English) to get a more detailed commentary on highlighted objects. The second gallery floor (or "1" level) houses the Picture Gallery, which is again a huge collection of just plain amazing works by every famous artist from the 17th through the 19th centuries. The top floor (or "2" level) only houses a coin and medal gallery along with what are listed as the "Vermeyen Cartoons" – a series of impressive life-sized tapestries that portray Charles V's Tunis campaign of 1535.

The museum's grand central staircase is adorned with murals by the Klimt brothers and others, which depict the history of art from ancient Egypt to Florence. Gustav Klimt's especially ornate gilded frescoes are probably his best works, although they are illustrative, which in the critical art world loses you points (indeed, they were criticized for being "too erotic"). Diagrams point out which mural was painted by which artist, and sometimes a viewing scope is provided for visitors to see them up close.

Tip:
An adult ticket entitles you to a one-time pass to the museum, as well as, the Neue Burg located at Heldenplatz, which has amazing collections of imperial armoury, historic musical instruments, etc. – well worth a visit.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Vienna. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) on Map

Sight Name: Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum)
Sight Location: Vienna, Austria (See walking tours in Vienna)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Vienna, Austria

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