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The history of the museum

The Imperial Furniture Collection today represents a singular combination of storeroom, workshop, administrative body and museum that is unique in the world. 'Depository' in this context means the renovation, upkeep and administration of the holdings that are now accessible to the public in the new museum. The former 'lumber-room of the monarchy' has over the centuries become one of the most important collections of furniture in the world.

The Travelling Court and Maria Theresa
The institution of the imperial court furniture depository dates back to the 18th century. In 1747 Maria Theresa appointed the first Court Furnishing Inspector, who was responsible for the care, inventarisation and transport of imperial furniture.

The institution of the imperial court furniture depository dates back to the 18th century. In 1747 Maria Theresa appointed the first Court Furnishing Inspector, who was responsible for the care, inventarisation and transport of imperial furniture.

The most important task of the Court Furnishings Inspectors was organising the transport of furniture. The Viennese court moved its residence several times a year. In winter it resided at the Hofburg, followed by the "Sejour" (sojourn) at Schönbrunn and Laxenburg, with interludes for hunting, for example at Schloss Hof. These residences were not permanently furnished until the early 19th century and so the furnishings required by the imperial household had to move with the court.

On special occasions such as the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor at Frankfurt or the coronation of the Bohemian and Hungarian king at Prague and Budapest, the required ceremonial trappings and the drapery of the throne formed part of the monarch´s baggage train. There were even special folding chairs that could be fitted with precious covers to suit the occasion.

Mariahilfer Straße Nr. 88
In 1901 Emperor Franz Joseph commissionend a central storage facility at Mariahilfer Strasse No. 88 for the state holdings of furniture. In 1924 a number of display rooms were furnished and opened to the public. In 1998, after a period of refurbishment, the Imperial Furniture Collection opened its doors again as a modern museum.


The history of the museum

 

1747
Maria Theresia setzt den ersten Hofmobilieninspektor ein und betraut ihn mit der Inventarisierung, der Pflege und dem Transport des hofärarischen Möbelbestandes.

1901
Emperor Franz Joseph I commissions the construction of the Imperial-Royal Court Furniture Depository at 88 Mariahilfer Straße as the central storage facility for all items of furniture not in current use, as well as workshops and coach-houses.

1918
The state-owned movable and immovable property of the former monarchy was taken over by the Republic of Austria in 1918. The store-house with its old functions of storing and repairing furniture continued to be used to furnish the rooms of the new public offices. Over the centuries, an incredibly large number of objects had grown into a storeroom of history.

1924
A permanent display of selected items is opened at the Federal Furniture Despository as the collection is now known. Divided into sections illustrating various stylistic eras as models for craftsmen to copy, it includes two rooms with Baroque and Empire furniture together with 15 Biedermeier alcoves as illustrations of past styles of furniture and interior decoration in Vienna.

1993
1993 Start of the renovation project. A disused factory building adjacent to the Furniture depository and a Biedermeier house on Andreasgasse are acquired to extend the museum.

1998
Opening of the new museum designed by the architect Alessandro Alverà.
Today the collection comprises about 165,000 objects, from which 6000 are displayed in the museum.

 

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