Saturday, 29 August 2009
What to see: The Imperial Furniture Collection, Vienna
Half hidden away in a backyard off the bustling shopping street Mariahilfestrasse is the Imperial Furniture Collection, a large museum dedicated to the pieces of furniture and loose items available to the Kaiserliches Hofmobiliendepot, founded by Empress Maria Theresia inn1747. With only the Viennese palaces permanently furnished, it fell to the Imperial Furniture Collection to equip the many other imperial residences when they were to be used, making this the Habsburg equivalent of Sweden’s Royal Collections Department (Kungliga Husgerådskammaren) with its roots in the 16th century.
The imperial collection has been supplemented with furniture from the post-imperial time, making this also a museum of the history of Austrian furniture and interiors up to the present date. But the imperial pieces are in majority. And they are many – 165,000 to be exact.
Among them are rococo chairs and a desk from the reign of Maria Theresia (first picture) and the funeral regalia including a replica of the Imperial Crown of Austria, made of brass, false pearls and glass stones (second picture). As the third photo shows, there is a huge number of chairs of all styles, including the throne of Emperor Franz Joseph I (fourth photo) and the two 18th century folding chairs for use on travels (photo 5). There are also whole interiors, such as an imperial bedroom from the reign of Ferdinand I (sixth photo), and one may also find row upon row of mirrors, chandeliers, vases etc. (last photo).
To make the collection come alive there are screens here and there showing excerpts from some of the many films which have been made about Empress Elisabeth where one can see how the original pieces of furniture were used in the films.