Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vienna Museum of Fine Arts

The next day we got up and headed for the Museum of Fine Arts (after a stop at Aida for coffee and strudel and price shock).

It is opposite the Museum of Natural History, and near Hofburg Palace. Hofburg belonged to the Hapsburgs, and that isn't the least bit possible to get backwards.

The square between museums was deemed too large so a statue was commissioned to fill it.

Vienna is rather overwhelming in its abundance of monstrous imperial buildings, statues, and so on. The top of our list to visit was the Museum of Fine Arts, built over a 20 year period with an unlimited budget. It kinda shows. For example, consider the lobby.

The entry stairs lead to a modest statue of Theseus butchering a centaur.

Looking back down the stairs...

Feeling overwhelmed already? No problem, there is an intimate little cafe.

The first picture gallery (consisting of *many* rooms of paintings) alone blows many other museums out of the water. Works by Titian, Caravaggio, and others are crammed in wherever they will fit. No fancy humidity cases, you can take photos (no flash), and if you were a jackass even reach out and touch the works. For example, Caravaggio's Madonna of the Rosary sits in this room. The chairs are nice for listening to the audio tour. Sadly the audio tour is a bit pedestrian. Think "the man on the left is in red". It does have some good comments but well over half of the material is just it stating the patently obvious. It is still well worth the purchase, just disappointing as compared to the superb audio tour provided in the Vatican museum.

Heck, it's not even really a centrepiece, it's just another masterpiece.

Another set that stood out as quite unique (before we were too overwhelmed to appreciate most of it) was Giuseppe Arcimboldo's seasons. Water and Fire shown below.

Random additional pieces that were both striking and yielded decent photos (sometimes the room lighting made this hard).

Mantegna's St Sebastian and Sacrifice of Isaac.

Beyond the picture galleries there were Egyptian, Roman, and Greek materials, stuff collected by the Hofburgs, and probably a few galleries I forgot.

The building itself is a masterpiece and worth the admission in its own right.

Some of their Greek stuff retains colours.

And Egyptian stuff always looks cool.

Some of the statues by Giambologna, sadly in glass with annoying lighting making photos difficult, were striking lifelike. I'd love to get my hands on a set of decent replicas of his labours of Hercules series.

Naturally gilded overly ornate work was everywhere.

Apparently the inspiration for Captain Hook was a Kaiser.

Mmm, Prometheus livers.

The next picture gallery (who has just *one* picture gallery) was just as packed and had some fairly striking pieces.

We thought we were pretty quick through the museum all things considered but it was still 3:30 or so by the time we left. Thunder rolled, rain fell, and cover was taken. Sadly this was unanticipated so the garbage bag based camera rain shield was unavailable. Luckily the rain ended quickly. As we hadn't eaten (Vienna food is expensive!) we stopped for Curry and Wurst.

We headed home by way of the grocery store Billa where we forgot to buy nail clippers but managed to buy some food. After eating our Billa-food for lunch we hit a nearby bar for some *excellent* dark beer and wiener-schnitzel.

Sadly there are no known photos of the schnitzel as we were somewhat expecting a thundershower.

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