Take a journey back in time to the Geymüllerschlössel and visit the kind of summer residence a rather rich banker might have owned in 1810 (filled with the kind of furniture you’d buy to impress all the other bankers).
- Large house with several rooms decorated in the style of the early 1800s
- Filled with excellent examples of Biedermeier and Empire fittings and furniture
- Also antique mantel clocks
- Quick to get round (only a few rooms)
- A little out of the way in the 18th district
- €6 for adults or one-time free entry with the Vienna Pass
- See also: The MAK museum
Biedermeier and Empire
Much of the talk in Vienna about historical furniture, fittings and general interior design focuses on the turn-of-the-century and the stars of the Wiener Moderne.
But the Biedermeier slips quietly into discussions, too: the post-Napoleonic period that saw the growth of the middle class and an elegant refinement fill the drawing rooms of pre-revolution Austria.
And predating Biedermeier we had the Empire style, though the association with France did little for its popularity in Vienna. After all, Napoleon gave the city rather too many slaps around the head.
The Geymüllerschlössel residence in the Viennese suburb of Pötzleinsdorf is an excellent opportunity to see Biedermeier and Empire items in their natural environment.
The house itself went up in the early 1800s as a summer home for the banker and business man, Johann Jakob Geymüller. Hence the name.
A checkered history followed that ended in a period of disrepair. However, renovation work has restored everything to its Biedermeier glory in what is now an external location of Vienna’s MAK applied arts museum.
Fortunately for us, the MAK has an extensive collection of Biedermeier and Empire furniture, plus a collection of old clocks from one of the Geymüllerschlössel’s earlier occupants (Franz Sobek).
So the pristine-looking residence is now kitted out much as it might have looked some 200 years ago, offering a feel for the decor of a rich family of the time.
Suffice to say, the sofas, chairs, desks, tables, cabinets and other items are the kind where you’d eat buttered toast and drink red wine around them very carefully. Among my personal highlights:
- An 1800 Empire-style Pan/satyr-flavoured writing desk with cloven feet
- An 1810/1812 sofa set in the parlour that once belonged to the Empress Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este, wife of the Austrian Emperor of the time (Franz I/II)
- An 1840 walnut secretary by Vinzenz Hefele with a remarkable 105 drawers (most of which are hidden)
Tickets & visitor info
The Geymüllerschlössel only opens at weekends and typically only from early May to early December. At the time of writing, a standard adult entrance ticket to the house cost €6 (the small grounds and outdoor installations are freely accessible). A Vienna Pass (my review) gets you in once for free.
The authentic look of the rooms comes in part from an absence of display labels. Be sure to pick up a booklet (available in English) from the ticket counter, which has background information on most of the items you encounter.
You won’t need long to look around, since the house only has a handful of viewable rooms. Pop outside to look at the small landscaped garden with its trees, shrubs, lawns and contemporary art installations.
James Turrell’s Skyspace, for example, lives permanently outdoors: a walk-in room with a square opening in the roof that creates a remarkable aesthetic that changes with the sky and light conditions.
(The interior also often has contemporary art juxtaposed with the historical exhibits.)
How to get to the Geymüllerschlössel
The thing about residences in the country is that they tend to be, well, in the country. Even if the city of Vienna has grown into, around and beyond the village of Pötzleinsdorf. The surrounds still have an old village feel to them with summer villas and one-storey houses.
This being Vienna, though, a direct tram link manages to take you from the centre almost to the doorstep.
Tram/bus: take the 41 tram from its start (Schottentor in the centre) to its end (Pötzleinsdorf). Then either go one stop further on the 41A bus or simply walk up to the house (about 400m).
Address: Pötzleinsdorferstraße 102, 1180 Vienna | Website