Vienna has an extraordinary assemblage of fine museums, including the Leopold, showcasing modern Austrian art; the vast Kunsthistorisches Museum, the city’s answer to the Louvre; and the Belvedere Palace, which houses Klimt’s iconic “The Kiss,” among numerous other masterpieces. On this trip, we visited an off-the-beaten-track museum and two of the city’s newest galleries.
Located a 15-minute walk southwest of the MuseumsQuartier, this little-known museum houses one of the world’s largest furniture collections. With a repository containing around 165,000 pieces, the Möbelmuseum provides visitors the opportunity to admire styles ranging from baroque and Biedermeier to historicism and Viennese modernism. As fashions and designs evolved over the centuries-long rule of the Habsburgs, each new emperor brought in his own modern furnishings, which followed the royal family as they traveled among their many estates. Carriages transporting the personal pictures, carpets, kitchen utensils, dinner services and ceremonial thrones were dispatched to the destination before the emperor arrived. In 1901, Emperor Franz Josef I commissioned this space as an official warehouse to store the monarchy’s priceless unused antiques that had accumulated over time.
We observed a seemingly endless number of prayer stools, coat racks and candelabra, and rows upon rows of mirrors, picture frames and grandfather clocks. But there was also an array of more intimate objects, including the wheelchair used by the wife of Emperor Charles VI and Crown Prince Rudolf’s cradle and deathbed. The permanent exhibit, “Sissi in the Movies,” is dedicated to Ernst Marischka’s romantic trilogy of films about Empress Elisabeth, the cherished wife of Emperor Franz Josef I. Starring Romy Schneider, these cult movies employed original imperial furnishings on loan from the Möbelmuseum. We enjoyed clips from the films shown beside platforms restaged with the actual pieces used in the movie sets.