- Mika Vepsalainen
Dom Museum - The Religious History of Vienna in Art
Join us for a visit to the Dom Museum Wien housing the historic treasures of the Stephansdom Cathedral as well as the dmagnificent avant-garde classics from the Otto Mauer collection.
The Dom Museum Wien is Austria's leading museum for historical sacred art. Ranging from the Gothic period to Art Deco, the museum exhibits sculptures, precious altars, sacred objects adorned with gold and jewels, portraits, liturgical manuscripts and books, as well as magnificent vestments.
The objects date back to the medieval Archbishop Rudolf IV including his silk burial shroud woven with gold thread (though originally made for a Muslim sultan!). He was the founder of the House of Habsburg and father of the imperial capital who laid the foundation stone for the new Gothic building of St. Stephen's Cathedral and founded the University of Vienna. The most known and precious item in the collection is Rudolf’s portrait which is the oldest and most realistic three-quarter view portrait in Western World, probably created in 160 or so. Rudolf is buried in the catacombs of St. Stephen's Cathedral, right next door to the museum.
Cardinal Theodor Innitzer founded the Archbishop's Cathedral and Diocesan Museum in the times of the Austrian fascism, on 3 June 1933 in order to coincide with the “Katholikentag” in Vienna, and the 500th anniversary of the construction of the South Tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The museum left the Archbishop’s Palace in 1973 and moved to the current premises, the former apartment of the cathedral provost in the Zwettlerhof in Stephansplatz 6.
Since 1982 Dom Museum Wien also houses the Otto Mauer Collection, a large collection of modern and contemporary art by expressionists and secessionists (as they call Art Nouveau in Vienna, see our review of the Secession) as well as by key figures of the Austrian and international avant-garde from the 1950’s and 60’s. Monsignor Mauer was the man in the post-war Avant-garde who brought Austria's art scene back to international currents even if he always had a focus on the dialogue between art and religion.
After a redesign of the museum concept and renovation of the premises, the museum reopened in 2017 and almost immediately got a nomination for the European Museum Prize. It also received the highest Austrian award for museums, the Museum Prize in 2020.
The 3,000 works in the Otto Mauer Collection are the centrepiece of the new architectural and conceptual design. The museum sees itself as a platform for intercultural and interfaith approaches to dialogue between historic and contemporary art on tension between art, church and society. The permanent and special exhibitions offer a contemporary view of sacred art, but also include contemporary artists with existential themes such as identity, migration, exclusion, violence and poverty in four key areas: 1) Medieval cathedral treasures of St. Stephen; 2) Rudolf IV; 3) Viennese modernism and the avant-garde including the Otto Mauer Collection; 4) Contemporary art from Austria, topped up annually by the works of the winner of the Otto Mauer Prize.
The museum shop offers exhibition catalogs and art books, art postcards and prints as well as stationery, jewellery and design products.
The main entrance to Dom Museum Wien is barrier-free with a power-operated revolving door. The lockers, ticket counter and exhibitions are on different levels, but a lift ensures full accessibility. There is a barrier-free loo in the first floor and a regular one also in the basement next to the lockers.
There is no museum café but check the cafés and restaurants around Stephanplatz, tons of choices! As a suggestion for something untypical Viennese, walk around the back of the cathedral opposite to find the Haas&Haas tea rooms and gulp a cup of Viennese tea with cucumber sandwiches!
Dom Museum Wien
Stephansplatz 6 , 1010 Vienna