Vienna’s “New Castle”

When I bought my ticket for the Vienna Art History Museum (KHM = Kunsthistorisches Museum), I was told that the ticket was also valid for admission to the three departments of the museum that were located across the street in the Neue Burg (“New Castle”).

To find the entrance to the Neue Burg I walked three quarters of the way around the building, because for some reason I thought the entrance would be on the southeast side facing the Burggarten (Castle Garden), whereas it is actually on the northwest side facing the Heldenplatz (Square of Heroes). When you go there, I assume you will be better oriented than I was. Just don’t be misled by the big sign over the entrance reading Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Austrian National Library). There really is a library in the same building, but this is also the entrance to the three exiled departments of the KHM.

In the New Castle

Inside the Neue Burg the stairway and halls are quite lavish, as befitting a building that was originally intended to be the emperor’s residence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was built in the second half of the 19th century, but was still unfinished when the Empire collapsed at the end of the First World War. In the 21st century, members of the Global Financial Elite can rent parts of this building for Exclusive Events designed to impress their wealthy clients and soften them up for a sales pitch.

Historical Musical Instruments

The Collection of Historical Musical Instruments in the Neue Burg is said to be “the most important collection of renaissance and baroque instruments worldwide.” This may be true, but the presentation of this collection is low-key and does not provide much in the way of background information.

More historical musical instruments

I have been to several other music museums which I found more informative, for example the ones in Brussels, Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen.
(All my posts on European music museums are listed here.)

Suits of Armor in the Neue Burg

On another floor of the Neue Burg there is an impressive collection of medieval suits of armor and other weaponry.

Suits of armor & tapestry

My appreciation of this collection was enhanced by the fact that I had recently read a series of 36 ‘tips’ about it on the now-defunct website VirtualTourist, written by a Russian member (“Oleg_D.”) who had a keen interest in the military and religious history of the Middle Ages. But now that VirtualTourist has ceased to exist, it would be a good idea to get the audio guide to this collection, since the displays themselves do not provide much orientation on how the armaments were used, who owned them or how and why they changed over the centuries.

Armor for jousting

The only thing I know about jousting was that in July 1559 the French King Henri II was accidently killed at age 40 during a jousting tournament. This had serious repercussions, since his three sons, who succeeded him one after another, turned out to be too weak to prevent the French Wars of Religion between the Catholics and the Huguenots (Protestants).

Athlete of Ephesos

Ephesus or Ephesos was an important city in ancient times, located in what is now Turkey. Between 1895 and 1906 Austrian archaeologists excavated the ruins of Ephesus and brought numerous statues and other valuable objects back to Vienna for display here, including this bronze “Athlete of Ephesos”.

Of the three museum departments in the Neue Burg, the Ephesos Museum is the one that provides the most background information for those who as members of the ‘general public’ are curious but arrive with no particular specialist knowledge of the subject. I had previously read at least four VirtualTourist pages on Ephesos, so I at least knew a little about it and was curious to learn more.

Child with a Goose from Ephesos

Another famous ancient sculpture from Ephesos is this “Child with a Goose”. When I first saw it, I thought the child was playing with a rubber duck in the bathtub, but it turns out that rubber ducks are a much more recent invention (from the 1940s) and did not exist in ancient times.

My photos in this post are from 2016. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on Vienna, Austria.
See more posts on the now-defunct website VirtualTourist.

10 thoughts on “Vienna’s “New Castle””

  1. When I think Renaissance and Baroque musical instruments, I think Harpsichord and maybe Lute. Perhaps I am in the wrong era.
    It is astonishing to me that there is that much difference and that much of interest in armor as there seems to be in this museum
    And it does look like a rubber duckie.

  2. Yes, they should make more of an effort with the musical instruments. A set of 16th century shawms shaped like dragons. Empress Maria Theresa’s tortoiseshell violin. Benjamin Franklin’s glass harmonica. A crystal flute.

  3. How very different from Newcastle’s ‘new castle’ 😉 Is there any similar controversy about the collection from Ephesus that we have here in the UK about the Elgin Marbles?

    1. I was thinking of Newcastle when I put Vienna’s “New Castle” in quotation marks.
      Yes, it seems to me that not everybody is happy about having the Ephesus collection in Vienna.

  4. What a marvellous building, so sumptuous and well over the top. I enjoyed your very honest crit. of the museum and should I get back to Vienna I shall head for the Ephesus exhibits here as I’ve visited Ephesus and it’s a wonderful site. If these pieces were returned to Turkey I think they would have to go straight to a museum in Istanbul as there is nothing in the region of Ephesus that could display them properly. Not the best of solutions.

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