The Museums

Among the glories of the Ring Strasse are the two great Museums that are set facing each other across a great open square with a huge statue of Maria Theresa in the middle of it. One museum is devoted to natural history, the other to art.

I think this is the Kunsthistorisches Museum or the Art History Museum — it is difficult to be certain as both buildings are virtually identical. But this is where all the great classical paintings are displayed, together with the Egyptian and Greek and Roman collections.


And here on the other side is the Naturhistorisches Museum or Natural History Museum which contains geology and natural history and also prehistoric archaeology. It is somewhat awkward having archaeology separated between the two museums in this way. In the middle, between the two museums is the great statue of the empress Maria Theresa, who ruled for 40 years, from  1740 to 1780. She was thus a century earlier than the two museums, but she is given this pride of place because she introduced compulsory education in Austria and also for having established one of the world’s first open art galleries in the Belvedere


And here is a view of the Natural History Museum from the other side, resplendent in the evening sunlight. The ground is being dug up and will no doubt be replanted with greenery shortly.


Finally I couldn’t help but photographing one of the many statue in these Maria Theresa Platz between the museums, where  once again a naked or at least topless young lady appears to be about to be abducted by an almost equally naked young man. One wonders what Maria Theresa, who was notoriously conservative and established a ‘Chastity Commission’ to impose chastity and root out prostitution, would have thought about having so many statues of naked ladies adorning her square. No wonder Freud was so obsessed with sex:  so too were most of the other Viennese of his time. Sex was clearly a main concern and they put up luscious statues of  naked ladies everywhere.

On to the Prehistoric collection

or to the Art Gallery


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