From March 16-November 27, 2016 the Franz Joseph 1830-1916 (www.franzjoseph2016.at) exhibitions in Vienna and Lower Austria will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of the legendary Emperor. Presented according to different themes, each of the special shows puts the monarch in the spotlight, taking a critical look at his personal life and touching on various aspects of his politics.
Man & Monarch – Schönbrunn Palace
Mar 16-Nov 27, 2016, Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse, 1130 Vienna, www.schoenbrunn.at
This exhibition in the Habsburg’s summer residence focuses on Franz Joseph as a private individual. It looks at his forebears and offspring, his childhood and upbringing and the defining moments in his life including his coronation in 1848, his engagement and marriage to Elisabeth (aka Sisi) in Bavaria as well as the Austro-Hungarian compromise and its consequences. The Man & Monarch exhibition can be seen in the exhibition rooms on the ground floor of Schönbrunn Palace.
Majesty & Modesty – Imperial Carriage Museum
Feb 16-Nov 27, 2016, Imperial Carriage Museum, Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse, 1130 Vienna, www.khm.at
Majesty & Modesty brings the imperial legend to life by looking at all aspects of transport from the majestic to the everyday. It features carriages and clothing used by the monarch. A collection of beautifully preserved state coaches, intricate riding tack, magnificent formal garb and noble court livery shed light on three key moments in the emperor’s life: his marriage to Elisabeth in Bavaria (1854), his coronation in Hungary (1867) and his state funeral (1916).
Festivities & Everyday Life – Imperial Furniture Collection
Mar 16-Nov 27, Imperial Furniture Collection. Imperial Furniture Collection. Andreasgasse 7, 1070 Vienna, www.hofmobiliendepot.at
This exhibition contrasts Franz Joseph’s modest personal demands with the opulent lifestyle he was obliged to represent in his official role as head of state. Formal receptions and carefully choreographed trips were a significant part of his office. This special show at the Imperial Furniture Collection, one of the world’s largest repositories of furniture, takes a critical look at some of the myths and legends surrounding Franz Joseph via a selection of media.
Hunting & Recreation – Schloss Niederweiden (Lower Austria)
Mar 16-Nov 27, 2016, Schloss Niederweiden, Niederweiden, 2292 Engelhartstetten, www.schlosshof.at
The Hunting & Recreation exhibition at Schloss Niederweiden in Lower Austria explores Franz Joseph’s private passion for the sport and provides a fascinating insight into the political significance of the Habsburg hunting grounds.
The Austrian National Library is devoting a major exhibition to Franz Joseph I in 2016. Entitled The Eternal Emperor, it focuses on the ruler as a public figure: he was one of the most frequently pictured individuals of the 19th century, with each jubilee and his 80th birthday in particular triggering a flurry of production activity. His seemingly timeless image appeared everywhere and was the sole unifying symbol of an otherwise crumbling Habsburg Empire. Today there are more than 10,000 photographs, graphics and other documents from Franz Joseph’s lifetime in the Austrian National Library archives. The exhibits on show in the State Hall represent the very best of this extensive collection. They will be joined by the original suicide letters left behind by Mary Vetsera in Mayerling and an envelope closed with Crown Prince Rudolf’s seal – the first time the letters have gone on display in public since their sensational discovery earlier this year.
The Eternal Emperor. Franz Joseph I. 1830–1916, Apr 8-Oct 30, 2016 State Hall of the Austrian National Library, Hofburg, Josefsplatz 1, 1010 Vienna, www.onb.ac.at
In 2016 the spotlight will also fall on a number of other imperial personalities and institutions. The Lower Belvedere will celebrate its 300th anniversary. The man who built it, Prince Eugene of Savoy, died 280 years ago. Vienna’s Prater park was opened to the public some 250 years ago by Emperor Joseph II and now the Wien Museum Karlsplatz is dedicating a special exhibition to this milestone ("Meet Me at the Prater! Viennese Pleasures since 1766", Mar 10-Aug 21, 2016, www.wienmuseum.at). Spreading across around six square kilometres of the city, the former imperial hunting grounds are now Vienna’s largest leisure and recreation area. The Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien celebrates its 125th birthday in 2016. One of the landmarks lining Emperor Franz Joseph’s prestigious project, the Ringstrasse boulevard, the museum opened in 1891 as the central repository for the Habsburgs’ art collections. The Feste Feiern exhibition (Mar 8-Sep 18, 2016, www.khm.at) looks at various aspects of celebrations that established themselves in Europe, from the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the 18th century. The focus is on banquets with food, drinks, song and music, particularly at the various Habsburg residences.
- Vienna is set to host numerous contemporary events in 2016. Check the Vienna 2016: Imperial & Co(ntemporary) article for details: http://b2b.wien.info/en/press-media-services/reports
- www.habsburger.net is an excellent source of information on the history and lives and times of the Habsburgs (in German and English).