If you prefer mobile thrones to mobile phones, then the Imperial Furniture Collection (Hofmobiliendepot) is for you.
Think of the museum as the Antiques Roadshow on speed, where the desks come with mahogany and pearl inlays, not a screwdriver and assembly instructions.
- View the beds, chairs, cabinets, and other items that graced the imperial residences, especially from 1800 onwards
- Most displays focus on particular Habsburg personalities, like Empress Elisabeth (Sisi)
- Also trace the development of more modern furniture design
- Adult tickets are €10.50 (or use a Vienna Pass)
- Not for your average kid (though they might giggle at the historical toilets)
- Current exhibition:
- Märklin Moderne (until July, 2020)
- Previous exhibition:
- See also: Hofburg palace tours | Schönbrunn palace tours
Inside the Hofmobiliendepot
I’ve listed my personal highlights in a separate post, but here’s a quick overview of the collection…
The first floor at the entrance is where most of the upholstered action is, beginning with an introduction to imperial furniture management.
You know how moving house is stressful? Now imagine that when your house has over 1400 rooms.
The rest of the rooms on this floor present displays associated with some of the iconic Habsburg personalities and their spouses and children: Emperors Francis II/I and Franz Joseph, Empress Maria Theresa, and more.
As you move from display to display you develop a feeling for the changing culture, from the rich decoration of Marie Antoinette’s 18th century secretaire (a drop-front writing desk) to the more functional sleekness of the 19th century era.
You also gain some insight into the personalities of the owners, as reflected in their choice of styles and designs. So you can see Crown Prince Rudolf’s Turkish room or the rustic Hungarian-style furniture from Empress Elisabeth’s personal dairy farm.
Secretaire once owned by Marie Antoinette © BMobV, Photo: Lois Lammerhuber
The next floor houses the temporary special exhibitions, but also features, for example, a typical early 19th century music room and salon.
This display of period rooms continues on the third floor, with a row of exhibits from the Biedermeier period (i.e. early 19th century), accompanied by information on the historical background.
Discover, for example, the 1831 dressing room of Archduchess Maria Anna, or “look inside” a Viennese coffee shop with its extraordinary selection of pipes that would impress even Gandalf.
The rest of the floor hints at the development of the modern kitchen and bathroom, complete with 19th century bidets and commodes. A walk-in depot of sundry imperial items leads you back to the stairs via a collection of chairs.
This depot also showcases the original furniture featured in the Sisi movies of Empress Elisabeth’s life, complete with illustrative film clips.
On the top floor, you can follow the historical development of local furniture and chair design more closely. The displays cover such famous names as Thonet, Hoffman, Wagner and Loos (who, I feel, should have devoted more effort to toilet design).
Tickets & visitor information
At the time of writing, the museum opens from 10am to 6pm, Tuesdays to Sundays, with a standard adult ticket costing €10.50. One-time entry is free with a Vienna Pass sightseeing pass (more information).
A few extra tips:
- There are lockers to the right of the ticket desk – you need a 1€ coin to use them
- Each room has an introductory poster in German and English, and most of the item labels are in both languages, too. Your ticket also includes a free English audioguide
- If you’re pushed for time, the first floor has the main Imperial-related stuff. Start off in the room to your right once you pass the ticket barrier. We got round the whole museum in just over two hours
- Upstairs is more for those with a Biedermeier bent or a close interest in furniture history
- There are a few books and items for sale around the ticket desk. The museum also adjoins the Depot Café and Restaurant, and bars, restaurants and coffee houses pack the surrounding area
- We went in winter and the ticket desk warned that the rooms are not overly warm (for conservation reasons, I believe). They were right, but I was fine in a woolly jumper
How to get to the imperial furniture collection
The Hofmobiliendepot sits on a side road leading off Vienna’s main shopping street (Mariahilfer Straße). The U3 subway line runs underneath Mariahilfer Straße and the museum is closest to the Zieglergasse station.
The 13A bus line is not too far, either. Get out at Neubaugasse if coming from the north, or at Esterhazygasse if coming from the south.
Address: Andreasgasse 7, 1070 Vienna | Website