Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) Vienna: Ancient Egypt Galleries

This enormous museum includes a stunning Egyptian and Near Eastern collection, comprising over 17 000 objects covering c. 4500 years. Many of the items were gifts, in particular in the 19th century from Anton Ritter von Laurin (Austrian consul in Alexandria), Crown Prince Rudolf, and the collection of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, plus early 20th century excavations funded by Austria.

The galleries are decorated in Egyptian style, and 3 original Ancient Egyptian 6 metre high columns are used to support the ceiling of the main gallery. They were gifted to Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1869. Along with the coffin cases lining the walls, the effect is quite stunning.

Original Ancient Egyptian 6 metre high columns
Coffin cases lining the walls

The collection is divided by theme: funerary cult, cultural history, sculpture and relief, the development of writing.

4th dynasty reserve head from Giza

Highlights for me included: a rare 4th dynasty reserve head from Giza, the 5th dynasty tomb chapel of Ka-ni-nisut from Giza (excavated by an Austrian team in 1913), an 11th-12th dynasty blue faience hippopotamus statuette (similar to the one in the Metropolitan Museum)*, a beautiful statue of Thoth as an ibis from 600 BCE, and a highly decorated 20th dynasty shabti case .… among many other superb pieces.

11th-12th dynasty blue faience hippopotamus statuette
Statue of Thoth as an ibis from 600 BCE
Highly decorated 20th dynasty shabti case

* see: https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/blue-faience-hippopotamus-world-unite/

Practical Information

The KHM is an enormous museum; the Egyptian collection is situated on the raised ground floor at the right of the entrance hall. Lots of museums are situated in the same general area (the mirror image building opposite is the Natural History Museum). The address is Maria Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien

There are plenty of excellent trams which stop right outside.

Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday 10-1800

Thursday 10-2100

Current prices: Adults 21 euros (free for under 18s, various special tickets)

Audio guides can be hired, and guided tours are available.

There is a café and restaurant inside the museum.

There are lifts, accessible toilets, wheelchairs, lockers and a cloakroom.

Website: https://www.khm.at/en/visit/collections/egyptian-and-near-eastern-collection/

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Dulcie Engel

I was born in London, and studied French & German at Bristol University, before taking a Masters and PhD in linguistics at Reading University. During my professional career, I taught and published research on French, linguistics and English language at various universities, including Wolverhampton, Swansea and Queens Belfast. I have lived in Swansea since 1994.

I have always been a keen traveller and museum visitor, and since retiring early, I have volunteered at the Egypt Centre Swansea (from April 2014), where I am a gallery supervisor. I specialise in giving tours to adult visitors. During this time I have carried out research on the languages and writing systems used in Ancient Egypt, on various objects in our collection, as well as the history of collecting, and the use of Ancient Egyptian themes in literature (especially Dylan Thomas) and architecture.

I have published articles on these themes in the Egypt Centre Volunteer Newsletter (of which I am now associate editor) and in Inscriptions, the newsletter of the Friends of the Egypt Centre (see http://www.egypt.swan.ac.uk). I also contribute book and museum reviews. I have given Egyptian themed talks to the Swansea Historical Association, Swansea University Egyptology research group, the Friends of the Egypt Centre, Egypt Centre volunteers and visitors, Norwich U3A, and other local associations.