Museum of Lower Austria
New logo of the state museum
Lower Austrian Museum Betriebs GmbH
Before moving to St. Pölten in 2002, the museum, which was founded in 1902 by the Association for Regional Studies, had several locations in Vienna . It was housed in Wallnerstrasse from 1912 to 1923 and in Palais Mollard-Clary from 1923 to 1997 . With the emergence of the new state capital in St. Pölten, the state museum was relocated to the local cultural district.
Beginnings in the 19th century
As early as the 1820s and 1830s, the state estates wanted to set up a “Lower Austrian National Museum”. The deliberations dragged on and came to a standstill in the revolutionary year of 1848. It was not until January 5, 1886, when Josef Matzenauer, a member of parliament, submitted the application to found a state museum. The idea was pursued, but failed a year later because the experts consulted had come to a utopian cost estimate. Apart from that, there were many voices who questioned the meaning and necessity of another museum in Vienna. In the absence of a central, superordinate institution, local museums emerged all over Lower Austria in the following years. The propagation of such a museum in Baden under the name "Landesmuseum" prompted the Association for Regional Studies of Lower Austria in its extraordinary general assembly on November 12, 1902, to take further steps to establish a "Lower Austrian Regional Museum in Vienna". This should serve "the illustration and research of the past and present of the country in nature and culture". On October 2, 1903, the foundation was determined by a resolution of the state parliament and the state archive and the Association for Regional Studies of Lower Austria were entrusted with the implementation. The museum rooms made available in the Palais Caprara-Geymüller at Wallnerstrasse 8 in 1904 were adapted by the end of 1906 and the furnishings, which should be “first class and meet all modern requirements”, were completed by 1909.
On December 18, 1911, the time had finally come when Archduke Leopold Salvator was able to open the museum to the public on behalf of the Emperor. Soon after the opening, the museum committee was dissolved and transformed into a board of trustees. The collections became the property of the state and the management of the museum was entrusted to the state archive and library. State archivist Max Vancsa became the first director.
The museum as a local history school
The Lower Austrian State Museum is intended to "illustrate and research the past and present of the country in nature and culture". In addition to natural history, the museum also displayed documents from the collection of the state archive as well as coins and medals in five halls. In the “Pompeian Salon” the “Historical and Folklore Department” was presented, in which prehistoric and Roman finds, folklore objects, including traditional costumes and guild antiquities, as well as topographical views from the state library were on view. The fifth and last room housed a “Lower Austrian farmhouse parlor” and the “Poysdorfer Fund”.
On June 19, 1918, the museum was opened in an expanded form. The natural history area on the ground floor and a room on the first floor with exhibits on the history of criminal law in Austria from the private collection of Hans Liebl (1873–1950), which contributed to lively visitor interest, were new. The museum, which has seen itself as a local history teaching institution since its foundation, received a lot of attention as the “most modern institute” because of its presentation and communication methods. It was very popular, especially from schools, because local history lessons had become a central part of the curriculum.
The sale of the Palais Caprara-Geymüller by the state government in 1922 interrupted the positive development of the museum. Completely unprepared, it suddenly came to an end.
The new State Museum in the Palais Mollard-Clary
With the support of Governor Karl Buresch , the State Museum was finally assigned the Palais Mollard-Clary at Herrengasse 9 as a new location. The museum in Wallnerstrasse closed its doors on March 23, 1923. At the same time as the move, the adaptation of the new exhibition rooms began. In the same year, under director Günther Schlesinger (1886–1945), the state museum, archive and library were merged under the name "Lower Austrian State Collections". The ceremonial reopening of the museum took place on October 15, 1924. The move had also brought something positive, as the space was now much more spacious. With the new establishment, Schlesinger endeavored to transfer the character of a modern local history teaching museum, which had already been implemented in the field of natural history in Wallnerstrasse, to the cultural studies collections. He advocated “not only an aesthetic, but also a room-appropriate, individual representation, for the creation of museum interiors with different effects that remain permanently in the mind of the visitor”. A lapidarium with stone sculptures was set up on the ground floor and in the staircase, the scientific collection on the first floor and the cultural and scientific collection on the second floor. In the natural history area, a room dedicated to caving has now been set up. In the gallery, which is decorated with baroque wall paintings, 16 aquariums and two microscopes for the visitors were set up for study purposes. The hall "Forests and game in Lower Austria since the 18th century" with loans from the hunting collection of Hans Liebl initially formed the conclusion. New in the area of cultural history were a Robert Hamerling memorial collection and a room for church art. In 1927, more rooms were added, including the "Pompeian Room" built in again. There was a room for temporary exhibitions on each floor and, from 1926, a science teaching resource center for schools.
The Museum of the Reichsgau Niederdonau
Despite positive visitor statistics, the State Museum developed into a rigid operation in the 1930s. The collection activity was limited by the lack of space, and scientific work was almost impossible due to the personnel situation. After the “ Anschluss ” in March 1938, a lot should change - also for the museum. On October 1, 1938, the institution was renamed "Museum des Reichsgaues Niederdonau". It now also included the "Burgenland Landscape Museum" (formerly Burgenland State Museum) and the Haydn Museum in Eisenstadt, which were incorporated after the state of Burgenland was dissolved, as well as the Carnuntinum Museum in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg. The State Archives and State Library became independent departments in 1940. After Schlesinger was appointed head of the new “nature conservation agency”, he was succeeded as museum director by prehistoric Richard Pittioni . During his brief tenure from 1940 to 1942, he pushed through a number of significant improvements for the house. Above all, he directed the institute, which Schlesinger deliberately operated as a teaching collection, back in a more scientific direction. Extensive adaptation work helped to alleviate the shortage of space. In addition to storage rooms, new exhibition rooms were created. During Pittioni's absence due to the war, the board of directors of the administrative group responsible for cultural matters, State Councilor Leopold Pindur , carried out official affairs . Pittioni returned to his position in September 1945. Because the Second World War brought great losses for the state collections as well as severe damage to the palace in Herrengasse.
Resurrection and new bloom
The restoration and reconstruction work on the Palais Mollard-Clary dragged on over several years. The museum's scientific staff, Lothar Machura (1909–1982) for the natural history department, Franz Hampl (1915–1980) for archeology and Rupert Feuchtmüller (1920–2010) for cultural history, used the time to develop a concept for a new one to develop a contemporary state museum. Attempts were made to underline the established educational museum character of the house. The content-related dedication of the floors remained, but the individual topics were rearranged so that a real exhibition tour was created. Some rooms were added - and with them the possibility of a comprehensive presentation of the development of art in Lower Austria. The objects were arranged in the room in an aesthetically effective way, explained by texts and illustrated by maps, models or photographs. A major contribution to the impression of unity and to the addition of content came from artistic murals that were commissioned by painters such as Günther Baszel , Franz Deéd , Karl Dopler, Maximilian Florian , Hans Foitik and Paul Meissner .
The ceremonial reopening of the house took place on December 6, 1951, in the presence of Federal President Theodor Körner and Governor Johann Steinböck . As a modern “school museum”, the institution again met with great visitor interest. The success of the museum could also be expressed in numbers: "Hundred thousand visitors in eighteen months confirm the good reputation that the n. Ö. Landesmuseum enjoys in town and country" (1953). A large UNESCO report coined the title “Living Museum” - also because of the aquariums and terrariums. Changing exhibitions were shown from 1953 in a room on the ground floor, but increasingly also at locations throughout Lower Austria. The Baroque exhibition in Melk in 1960 curated by Rupert Feuchtmüller was intended to set standards as the first Lower Austrian provincial exhibition .
Out into the country
A few years after reopening, the State Museum suffered again from the problem that all museums suffer from: lack of space. The collecting activity continued unabated, but only little could be shown. Most of the stocks went to the depot, and there too space became scarce. The lack of space was not the only reason that certain areas of the collection were outsourced. By setting up branch offices throughout Lower Austria, building gems were saved from deterioration, excursion tourism was boosted and economically disadvantaged regions were promoted. After the war, the state museum's academic staff helped to redesign numerous local museums in Lower Austria. The establishment of memorial rooms and not infrequently even entire castles, however, always presented a new challenge. It is not easy to name the total number of “branch offices”, because in earlier years almost every museum facility designed by employees of the State Museum was given this name . This also included the Marchfeld Museum in Weikendorf (1956) and the Hollitzer Museum in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg (1958) as well as the memorials for the Swiss naturalist Johann Jakob von Tschudi in Lichtenegg (1952), for Friedrich Gauermann in Miesenbach (1953), for Ferdinand Raimund in Gaaden (1957) and for Ludwig van Beethoven in Baden (1965).
Other museums were planned but not implemented, such as a castle museum for Ottenstein Castle or the “Lower Austrian Picture Gallery” for Fridau Castle in Ober-Grafendorf. Between 1948 and 1989, a total of fifteen "official" branch offices were set up, which the State Museum also looked after. Some of these museum facilities have been handed over to other operators in recent years, many no longer exist today. Schallaburg Castle near Melk, the 15th branch of the State Museum, which, according to the original concept, was primarily intended to be devoted to topics relating to regional history, developed into the most important intercultural exhibition center in the country.
State capital resolution and departure
Due to the many branch offices and their support, the focus of the State Museum has shifted over the years. The Palais Mollard-Clary had remained his headquarters, but primarily for administrative purposes, because in addition to the museum's scientific staff, the entire cultural department was also housed there. The exhibition areas freed up by the relocation of entire collection areas were often even rededicated as office space. The palace was supposed to be the showcase of the museum in the federal capital, but only holdings of the natural history and a few parts of the cultural history collections were to be seen here. Many visitors, including numerous guests from abroad who had read about the valuable archaeological holdings of the State Museum, had to be referred to the relevant branch offices. The overall situation was far from satisfactory.
In the mid-1980s, decisions were made with particular consequences for the museum. Because of the construction of the underground line 3 , the palace had to be closed on June 1, 1986. One month later, on July 10th, the state parliament decided to make St. Pölten the state capital. This resulted in working groups and concepts for a new state museum in St. Pölten, which dealt with the function and future of the museum and the results of which later served as the basis for planning. The closure of the palace in Herrengasse lasted two years, during which the concept for the presentation was revised. The natural history exhibition on the first floor has been modernized, while the permanent cultural studies area on the second floor has been given up in favor of special exhibitions. On the occasion of the reopening on June 10, 1988, an exhibition on the history of the Palais Mollard-Clary and the State Museum was shown. This was followed by a number of other cultural and natural history exhibitions, but also pure art exhibitions. The State Museum in Vienna was closed at the end of June 1996.
A museum for the 3rd millennium
In July 1992 it was decided to set up a cultural district as an essential part of the new government district in St. Pölten. Following the decision of an international panel of experts in September 1992, architect Hans Hollein was commissioned with the master plan for the cultural district and the architectural planning for the state museum. In a first step, it was planned to build only the Shedhalle planned by Hollein as an independent component of the future museum and to be completed by May 1996 as the location for the Lower Austrian regional exhibition "Ostarrîchi - Austria". The construction of the main wing with the workshops and depots was postponed. In June 1997 the Lower Austrian Landtag passed the resolution to establish the State Museum, but in a reduced form "with less than half of the original program and construction volume". A fundamental re-planning of the museum building was the result. The Shedhalle, which was taken over by the cultural department in April 1997, served the State Museum as an exhibition area during the planning phase. At the end of 1999, management was transferred to the newly founded Niederösterreichische Museum Betriebsgesellschaft, while scientific competence and responsibility for collecting remained with the cultural department. After a long planning phase, the foundation stone was laid in September 2000 and the topping-out ceremony in April 2001. Almost exactly 100 years after the founding decision by the Association for Regional Studies of Lower Austria, the new regional museum was officially opened on November 15, 2002. 150,000 visitors were already counted in the first year. In 2003 the State Museum was awarded the Museum Prize. With the Klangturm , Artothek and Kunstraum Niederösterreich, Museum Gugging and Egon-Schiele-Museum in Tulln, further locations were included in the operation.
Museum of Lower Austria
The Lower Austria Museum, with its history, art and nature, became the Lower Austria Museum. Since 2016 it has united the house of history and the house of nature in one house. In recent years, the permanent presentation of nature has been made more attractive and clear step by step and has been enriched with numerous interactive stations. In the former area of the art exhibitions, which was closed on July 31, 2016, the House of History was built by September 2017. This is to show the eventful history of the state as the heartland of Austria and Central Europe. In addition, there are special exhibitions to deepen a topic. The first show is planned, 100 Years of the Republic of Austria 1918–2018.
The State Museum of Lower Austria in St. Pölten until July 2016
The house, adapted by the architect Hans Hollein (2002) and the architectural group RATA PLAN (2009), combines the history, art and nature of Lower Austria. The tasks of the Landesmuseum Niederösterreich are preservation, expansion, scientific development, presentation and administration of the collections. It sees itself as an educational institution and thus a link between science and the public, as a place for leisure activities, recreation and relaxation.
An exhibition room of around 300 m² is available for special exhibitions in the area of regional history. In the first museum 3D cinema in Austria, the history of the country and its living spaces can be presented in a multimedia way under various aspects as communication space, settlement space, economic space. Virtual workstations are available in the museum laboratory where visitors can choose their own path through history.
Art collection area
The collection illuminates Austrian art from the Middle Ages to current trends with a focus on Lower Austria. The focus of the collection is on holdings from the 19th and 20th centuries, from Biedermeier to Expressionism. The collections include works by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller , Friedrich Gauermann , Egon Schiele , Oskar Kokoschka and Leopold Hauer up to Adolf Frohner , Arnulf Rainer , Elke Krystufek , Heinz Cibulka and Hermann Nitsch .
The Landesmuseum Niederösterreich has extensive collections from the fields of fine arts, natural history, folklore, archeology and general regional studies. A museum database should make it possible to find out about the exhibits in the Landesmuseum Niederösterreich in St. Pölten and the other collections in other exhibition houses, study collections and depots of the Landesmuseum. The database is still under construction and only contains a selection of the collections.
Complex basic scientific statements are presented on the basis of regional conditions. A watercourse leads from the glacier in the high mountain region to the waters of the lowlands. Live fish, amphibians and reptiles are shown in aquariums and terrariums.
The State Museum in St. Pölten is the only one in Austria that also shows live animals and therefore falls into the zoo category . Since the theme of water runs like a red thread through the museum and extends from the high alpine glacier region to the Danube, aquariums convey the importance of water as a habitat for different animal species, such as pike, catfish, carp, wax fat, sterlet. The European pond turtle, local Aesculapian snakes, grass snakes, adders, bees, ants and ground squirrels live in the museum garden. Background information is provided and more detailed stories are discussed in the museum blog “On the trail of nature”.
Branch offices and presentations of the state collections
The house where Haydn was born in Rohrau is run as a branch of the State Museum. Permanent presentations of the Lower Austrian state collections are located at the following locations:
- Carnuntum Archaeological Park in Petronell-Carnuntum
- Carnuntinum Museum in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg
- Museum of Legal History in Pöggstall
- Lower Austria Prehistory Museum in Asparn an der Zaya
- Friedrich Gauermann Museum in Miesenbach
- Egon Schiele Museum in Tulln
- Caricature Museum Krems
- Memory of the country. History database of the Lower Austria Museum
- Entry on Lower Austrian State Museums in the Austria Forum
- Wolfgang Krug (Ed.): Landesmuseum Niederösterreich. 100 years of a “permanent” house (= Lower Austrian State Museum: Catalog of the Lower Austrian State Museum. N. F., vol. 500). Brandstätter, Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-85033-631-4 (special exhibition 100 years of the Landesmuseum).
- House of History is ceremoniously opened. In: noe.orf.at. September 9, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
- Pure architecture and the opening ceremony. The new center of the Krems art mile, the Landesgalerie Niederösterreich, will open next year with a comprehensive program of events. A cultural hotspot with unique architecture is emerging in the Wachau World Heritage Site. In: landesgalerie-noe.at. Kunstmeile Krems Betriebs GmbH, accessed on October 2, 2018 (opening dates Landesgalerie Niederösterreich).
- Rapp becomes the new head of the House of History. In: orf.at. November 23, 2017. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
- offices of the Lower Austrian State Museum. In: landtag-noe.at, accessed on October 24, 2017 (PDF; 531 kB; report by the State Audit Office from 2006).