- Mika Vepsalainen
Ephesus Museum Wien - an Imperial Look at the Ancient Ephesus!
Updated: Nov 18, 2022
Join us for a comparison of the collection of the Imperial Ephesus Museum in the fantastic imperial Hofburg with the original Ephesus in situ museum in Selçuk, Izmir!
Welcome to one of the most interesting historical museums in Vienna, the Ephesus Museum at the fanstastic imperial Hofburg Palace in the museum district in the heart of the city. Ephesus, or in Greek, Ephesos, was one of the most important cities of antiquity. Today it is one of the most fascinating outdoor museums revealing the secrets of the city - please see our review from the spot at “Ephesus - a Fantastic Outdoor Museum of the Most Important Greek, Oman and Ottoman City”.
Austria’s history of archaeological research in Ephesus goes back to the late 19th century. As early as in 1860s, a British Museum expedition group initiated work on the site. Since 1895, Austrian archaeologists have been excavating the ruins of Ephesus. Up to 1906, many objects of extremely high quality were transferred to Vienna and can be seen today as the Ephesus Museum which is an annex to the Austrian Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
Emperor Franz Joseph had an agreement with the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II who presented a generous gift to the Emperor including numerous ancient objects that had been discovered, which he allowed to be exported to join the collections in Vienna. They were temporarily put on display at the Theseus Temple in the Volksgarten. The export of antiquities from Turkey was banned by the Turkish Antiquities Law of 1907 since when Vienna has received no further finds.
The highlights include the Parthian Monument, the Amazon from the Altar of the Artemision, the bronze Athlete statue and the Child with a Goose. In addition, the museum also hosts architectural specimens and sculptures from the Sanctuary of the Great Gods of the Mystery cult on Samothrace, a Greek island that was explored by Austrian scholars in 1873-1875. There are also finds from the site of the Seven Sleepers that we have reviewed separately.
December 1978 finally saw the Vienna Ephesus Museum opened inside the imperial Hofburg palace. There is a representative selection of Roman sculptures that decorated Ephesus before including the sprawling thermal bath facilities and the Ephesian Theatre.
The Ephesos collection is located at the Neue Burg wing of the Hofburg palace. This wing should have housed royal apartments, but wasn’t ready until after WWI, by which time there were no longer any royals to go in them. So the Neue Burg lent itself to other uses, like providing a home to museums. The location is quite exquisite in its imperial splendour and definitely worth a visit on its own right!
The antiquities sit in curved halls and giant staircases, where huge marble columns and white ceilings match the displays just perfectly. Even if you’re not into antiquities, you might want to get a ticket just to see inside the Neue Burg - and given the limited size of the collection, you do not need an awful lot of time unless you want to examine objects or information displays in detail.
The museum is easily accessible with no steps, through the entrance of the Haus der Geschichte Österreichs. There are five parking spaces for people with disabilities at Heldenplatz. There is a wheelchair accessible restroom in the museum although on the side of the Austrian history section.
At the entrance, there are coin-operated lockers.
There is no museum shop for the Ephesus Museum but when you come out of the museum, turn left and you will see the joint Neue Burg museum shop that we have reviewed also e.g. under the Weltmuseum.
In the Weltmuseum, there is also a lovely café which you can enter without a ticket to the museum or you can join any of the restaurants around Hofburg, of which there are plenty as you are right in the heart of Vienna!
For the true connoisseurs, a trip to Ephesus city to see how it stands today in Selcuk, Turkey is a must. Check our review from the Ephesus outdoor museum there!
Ephesus Museum Wien
Hofburg Palace, Heldenplatz, 1010 Vienna