Austria - Libraries and museums



Austria is rich in availability of large library collections and is filled with strong, unique collections. The largest and most important of Austria's 2,400 libraries is the Austrian National Library, which contains more than three million volumes. It includes eight main collections: printed books, manuscripts, music, maps, papyri, portrait and picture archives, literature archives, and a theater collection. The National Library serves as a center for the training of professional librarians, prepares the Austrian national bibliography, and provides a reference service for Austrian libraries. The largest university libraries are the University of Vienna (5.5 million volumes), Graz University (three million), and Innsbruck University (1.4 million). Austria also has several hundred private libraries, such as the renowned libraries in the monasteries at Melk and Admont.

The Haus-, Hof-, and Staatsarchiv, founded in Vienna in 1749, was combined in 1945 with the Allgemeine Verwaltungsarchiv to form the Austrian State Archives. The Archives' collection ranks as one of the most important in the world, with more than 100,000 manuscripts and documents, some dating as far back as the year 816. Most notable are the state documents of the Holy Roman Empire—including those of the Imperial Court Council (from 1555), the Imperial Court Chancellery (from 1495), and the Mainz Imperial Chancellery (from 1300); documents of the subsequent Austrian State Chancellery; and those of the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Ministry.

There are over 700 museums in Austria, including art museums, archaeology and history museums, science and technology museums, and regional museums. There are eight recognized historical sites in the country. The most important museums had their origins in the private collections of the House of Habsburg. The Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum) in Vienna (1871) contains a vast collection of Flemish, Italian, and German paintings by old masters. It also houses distinguished collections of Egyptian and Oriental objects, classical art, sculpture and applied art, tapestries, coins, and old musical instruments. The Albertina Museum houses the world's largest graphic art collection, including the most extensive collection in existence of the works of Albrecht Dürer. The Secular Treasury (Schatzkammer) houses the jewels and insignia of the Holy Roman Empire and of all the Austrian emperors. The numerous collections formerly in the possession of the imperial court have in large part been brought together for display in the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Hofburg (Innsbruck). Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace contains a collection of imperial coaches from the Habsburg court. The Austrian Gallery in Belvedere Castle (Vienna), formerly the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, houses unique examples of medieval Austrian art as well as works of 19th-and 20th-century Austrian artists. The Museum of Modern Art was opened in Vienna's Palais Liechtenstein in 1979; incorporated into it was the Museum of the 20th Century, founded in 1962. Also of interest is Vienna's Lipizzaner Museum, featuring the city's famous white horses, and a museum of Sigmund Freud's apartment and office.

There are also other castles, manor houses, monasteries, and convents, many of which date from the Middle Ages and which are of interest for their architecture as well as for their contents. Important scientific collections are housed in the Natural History Museum, the Museums of Anthropology and Folklore, and the Technical Museum, all in Vienna; the Joanneum, in Graz; the Ferdinandeum, in Innsbruck; the Carolino Augusteum and the House of Nature, in Salzburg; and the Folk Museum, in Hallstatt, Upper Austria, which contains local prehistoric discoveries dating from the 4th and 3rd centuries BC . Salzburg has two historical museums dedicated to Mozart—the house where he was born and another house in which he lived.

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