What: One of the most concentrated collection of museums and largest cultural space in the world
Best Sights: Phenomenal collection of art and natural history from the Habsburg dynasty
Bizarre Sights: reusable drop-bottom coffin in the Undertaker’s museum.
Vienna is definitively the world home of museums, housing a staggering collection of 153 museums altogether, and that’s not including the numerous palaces, monuments and statues that there are to see.
Art and Natural History
Most famous are probably the Kunsthistorisches museum (Art History) and theNaturhistorisches museum (Natural History) – The two buildings are mirror images of each other and are an impressive sight when seen from the gardens separating them. In the Kunsthistorisches museum you can truly see the incredible wealth of art amassed by theHabsburg dynasty over the centuries. Artists range from Klimt to Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Naturhistorisches museum is one of the largest museums of Natural History in the world. Again it houses the belongings of the Habsburgs – one of whom had a particular penchant for rare stuffed animals and other oddities. Minerals, dinosaur models and the world’s largest collection of human skulls are all to be found here.
Death and Crime
The Kriminalmuseum houses the documentation of all manner of grisly crimes that have taken place in Vienna. Unfortunately the press cuttings and explanations are all in German but the photographs speak for themselves. Along the same theme is the Bestattungsmuseum – the Undertakers museum! (Goldeggasse 19, Tel – 01 501 954 227) This holds treasures such as the reusable drop-bottom coffin and coffins fitted with alarm bells for those with the fear of being buried alive.
It seems apt that a city that doesn’t know the meaning of ‘no smoking’ should have the have an extensive Tabakmuseum. This lies in the Museumsquarter – one of the biggest cultural spaces in the world. The Museumsquarter is also home to the Leopold Museum and the controversial building of the Museum of Modern Art.