Monday, April 9, 2012

DBSB '12: Kunsthistorisches & Naturhistorisches Museums

After a few hours of swimming around in Egon bliss, Sarah and I reluctantly left this holy heaven and trekked on to the Kunsthistorisches and Naturhistorisches Museums.

These two babies are fa├žade twinsies and were built between 1872 and 1891 after designs by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer to house the Hapsburgs' collection and make it accessible to the public.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum houses a picture gallery, Greek & Roman antiquities, Egyptian and Near Eastern objects, and a numismatic collection.

All the gorgeosity and yumyumyum was a bit overwhelming.

We saw a great many wonderful, wonderful things while in that museum, but the main reason I'd wanted to go there so badly was this little painting:

This is the Portrait of Jacopo Strada by Titian, and I spent an entire semester reading just about anything I could find on him, the artist, and the portrait, so that I could write a seminar paper on the work. I spent months dreaming about visiting Vienna one day and finally seeing him in all his glory, and I pictured myself yelling at him for all those nights I got no sleep because of him. But nope, the room it's held in was closed off to us. Some nonsense about preparing for an upcoming exhibition. The least they could have done was let me in to see it privately, right?

Also, fun fact: the Kunsthistorisches Museum appears in the last mission of Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, which I thought was pretty interesting. And I found a video comparing the actual museum to the video game. Here it is, if this is of any interest to you.

After this, we made our way across the square and into the Naturhistorisches Museum.

And then we saw it...

The Venus of Willendorf. Discovered in 1908 by the archaeologist Josef Szombathy at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria, the so-called 'Venus' of Willendorf is estimated to have been made sometime between 24,000 and 22,000 BCE. I found it ever so charming that she has her own little house inside the museum. Inside, everything was dark except for the small glass case in which she is held. And she is so beautiful, with her exaggerated hips and breasts, it's all strangely endearing. And she's so tiny! She'd easily fit in my hand, which is saying a lot. It was strange, finding myself in front of one of the first objects I studied in my AP Art History class all those years ago. She was in front of me, undeniably real and impossibly old. So old. It was mind-boggling and surreal, but mostly wonderful.

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