You might expect one of Austria’s finest collections of paintings and graphics works to reside in some grand museum. Instead, the efforts of such artists as Rembrandt, Titian, Klimt, Rubens, Bruegel, Dürer, and van Dyck find a home in a Viennese university: the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.
- Selected highlights viewable by the public in special exhibitions
- Check locally if an exhibition is on during your Vienna stay
- Art collection includes modern and contemporary pieces, too
- Home to Hieronymus Bosch’s Last Judgement
- See also:
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
(Enter for art, education, and inspiration)
The academy (which holds university status) looks back on a long history that began toward the end of the 1600s.
Former students and teachers include such names as Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Otto Wagner, Egon Schiele, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Ernst Fuchs, and Gottfried Helnwein. And a certain Adolf Hitler was famously denied a place (twice).
The institution’s current home on Schillerplatz went up in the 1870s to designs by Theophil Hansen, the architect behind Austria’s parliament building and the Musikverein.
The building looks rather pristine despite its venerable age. We can thank a major renovation project for that; the university only moved back there in 2021.
Acquisitions, donations and the efforts of the academy’s own students and staff across more than three centuries have, inevitably, resulted in a significant in-house art collection.
Here we’re not talking about the submissions of Viennese teenagers applying for a degree place: this is a collection that stretches from medieval masterpieces through to the present.
Think Albrecht Dürer. Or Gustav Klimt. Bosch and Bruegel. Van Dyck and von Alt. Hundertwasser and Schiele. Rembrandt and Rubens. Titian and Boticelli.
Fortunately for us, the academy’s galleries offer a public home to highlights from the collection.
What you see may depend on when you go, and your visit may fall into a gap between exhibitions. So check locally for the latest information. (Expect a series of shows featuring a mix of collection highlights in dialogue with contemporary settings or works.)
Incidentally, the academy may have other exhibition spaces open at the same time so watch for those.
One item that looks likely to appear in every main exhibition is what might be the collection’s greatest treasure: the Last Judgement Triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, produced in the first decade of the 16th century.
Ticket & visitor tips
At the time of writing, a standard adult ticket to the paintings gallery cost €9.
- The front entrance of the academy looks out over a park with a large monument to the German literary giant Friedrich Schiller. Once you enter the building, go on through and turn right down the corridor, then up two sets of stairs (or take the lift) to Floor 1 (where the exhibitions take place).
- Enjoy the interior decoration as you go. For example, look through the glass doors opposite the entrance to see the Aula hall with its huge ceiling paintings by the German painter Anselm Feuerbach.
- If you’re most interested in paintings by Old Masters, then be sure to also visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum (when you leave the academy, turn left and just walk to the end of Niebelungengasse).
How to get to the collection
Subway: Karlsplatz station is very close (on the U1, U2 and U4 subway lines). Just be sure to take a west exit from the underground complex.
Tram/bus: The trams that skirt the edge of the old town stop nearby, too. Take the 1, 2, D or 71 to either Burgring or Oper/Karlsplatz.
Address: Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna | Website