Imperial Furniture Collection (Hofmobiliendepot)

Imperial Furniture Collection (Hofmobiliendepot) (40)

The Imperial Furniture Collection is an exhibition space that visitors may find curious in that it is a cross between a museum, a workshop and a warehouse and offers a very different perspective to that of the luxury palaces of the Habsburg. 

Its origins go back to 1747, when Maria Theresa started the collection and appointed an inspector of the furniture of the court to take care of the pieces and keep an inventory. In 1901, Franz Joseph I ordered the construction of a building to be used as a storage space for the furniture that was not used in the royal quarters and to house a repair shop for these pieces. 

The administration of the collection amassed in this storage area was taken over by the Republic in 1919 following the transition, and part of the collection was destined to furnish official buildings. It was decided that the remaining pieces would form part of an exhibition, which opened in 1924.

Over the years, the Hofmobiliendepot has become one of the largest museums in the world dedicated to furniture and interior decoration. To give you an idea of the size of the museum's collection, the institution's storage areas still house a staggering 160,000 objects.

In 1998 the current location in Andreasgasse, designed by architect Alessandro Alverà, was inaugurated. Walking through its halls, visitors will not only discover the innermost side of the Habsburgs, but will also gain an understanding of how decorating styles in the buildings of the Austrian capital evolved, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. Part of the exhibition is dedicated to the achievements of respected architects and designers such as Adolf Loos, Otto Wagner and Josef Hoffmann.

In addition to Baroque armchairs and valuable pieces of Biedermeier furniture, visitors can contemplate Empress Sissi's chambers, which feature ornate couches, the wheelchair belonging to the wife of Charles VI, and even some more alarming pieces such as spittoons or toilet bowls hidden in luxurious seats.

The Hofmobiliendepot also offers visitors the chance to see how objects were transported during an era when the royal residences were not permanently furnished and the imperial court alternated its residencies between the palaces of Hofburg and Schönbrunn. Finally, if you would like to complete this exciting journey into the past, do not miss a visit to the museum storage areas, which are also open to the public.

 By the way, if you are a fan of the 'Sissi' trilogy, here you can see an interesting exhibition of the pieces used in the films.

So, while perhaps the name of the museum is not very appealing, the truth is that a visit can be a most rewarding experience in terms of variety, curiosities and the manner in which the exhibits are presented.

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