The Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck is a museum for pre-history, early history, art history, music history, graphics and natural sciences, in other words just about everything.
My first photo shows the museum from the outside, with a red banner advertising an exhibition on “The Cultural History of Sexuality, 100,000 years of sex” from June 7 to September 10, 2006. Above it is a smaller sign which reads: “Wide awake — no violence against women.”
This first part of the exhibit was devoted to sexuality in pre-historic times, ancient Greece and ancient Rome. The second part was in another museum entirely.
This photo shows part of (actually most of) the museum’s collection of historical musical instruments, along with a portrait of one of the world’s first great opera composers, Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), whose operas L’Orfeo (from the year 1607), Combattimenti (1624), Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The Return of Ulysses to his homeland, 1641) and L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea, 1642) have all been performed in excellent productions at the Frankfurt Opera in recent years.
Another museum in Innsbruck is the Zeughaus Museum. Here they were showing the second half of the exhibition on “The Cultural History of Sexuality, 100,000 years of sex” — the first half of which I had seen the day before at the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum. Since the exhibition was not terribly large, I assume the reason for splitting it up between the two museums was to entice people to visit both. (Which obviously worked in my case.)
This second half dealt among other things with the history of condoms through the centuries, and with sexual practices during the Middle Ages, which evidently were not as chaste as we have long been led to believe.
While I was there a resolute young female curator was giving a guided tour to a teen-aged school class of about two-thirds boys and one-third girls. She tried to get the kids to make comments and ask questions, which they were mostly too timid to do, but at least there was no snickering.
The exhibition was on loan from a museum in the Netherlands, by the way, so it wasn’t anything the Austrians thought up all by themselves. They did translate it all into German, though.
The regional history department includes a section on the First World War, with this aphorism by the Austrian author Karl Kraus:
War is first the hope that we will be better off,
then the expectation that the others will be worse off,
then the satisfaction that the others aren’t any better off than we are
and afterwards the surprise that both sides are worse off.
(OK, it sounds more elegant in the original German.)
The word Zeughaus looks like it should mean ‘Stuff-House’ or ‘Junk-House’, but actually it’s an old word for ‘arsenal’, which is what this building was originally used for. It has been a museum since 1973, but didn’t really become popular with the local folks until 1994, when they started showing open-air films in the courtyard every summer. They have a wide range of films, some old, some new; some classics, some not.
Their 2006 season began on August 4th with A Night at the Opera, an American film from 1935 starring the Marx Brothers, in the original English with German subtitles, followed by thirty more films on thirty consecutive nights.
They say they show the films no matter what the weather — but I pity the poor diehards who turned up on August 24, 2006, to see Woody Allen’s Match Point, because that night it was pouring rain and I was so glad there was a roof on the opera house.
My photos in this post are from 2006. I revised the text in 2018.
See also: Opera in Innsbruck.