THE OBERÖSTERREICHISCHES LANDESMUSEUM IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Since its establishment in the year 1833, the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum has been the central state museum institution. It maintains extensive collections and documentary archives and provides insight at eleven sites into the natural, cultural and art history of Upper Austria. Special exhibitions on current international and/or collection-related topics supplement the extensive permanent exhibitions. Cultural education programmes and events enrich the museum’s offer.
In addition to the three major sites in Linz, the Schlossmuseum, the Landesgalerie and the Biologiezentrum, the largest museum institution in the country runs a series of museum institutions in Upper Austria with different focuses.
As a modern cultural institution the Landesmuseum actively endeavours to forge partnerships with other museums, cultural, media and economic organisations. Together with local, regional and international partners in different societal milieus it offers a forum for meetings, communication and exchange.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE HISTORY OF THE OÖ. LANDESMUSEUM
The establishment of the Francisco-Carolinum Museum (now: Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum) dates back to the year 1833, when it was founded on the initiative of the Linz District Administrator Anton Reichsritter von Spaun. The four subjects and collection areas still being focused on to this day were already in its 1835 statutes: History and topography, the artistic (= art), natural history and technology (= applied arts, devices, machines, models etc.).
The subjects laid out at that time developed into special collections, which were compiled in the beginning from private collections in aristocratic circles, from monasteries or the bourgeoisie. Early focuses included antique weapons and military equipment, antique coins, graphic works, technological objects and holdings, correlating with applied biology and particularities of the natural sciences.
Following the opening of the Museum Francisco-Carolinum on the Museumstrasse in the year 1895, the collections experienced an enormous increase in objects, in particular the natural sciences faculty developed quite vigorously and turned itself towards basic research. In addition in 1854 the Landesgalerie, founded by the Oberösterreichischer Kunstverein at the suggestion of its Vice President Adalbert Stifter, also relocated to the new museum building. In 1896 the Oberösterreichische Landesarchiv [Upper Austrian State Archive] was outsourced as its own institution, the first full-time humanities officer (Dr Hermann Ubell) was hired in 1903, the first natural sciences curator (Dr Theodor Kerschner) in 1914.
Organisational changes in the collection and research activities after 1946 brought about new spatial requirements and thematic specialisations. New institutions emerged from the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum during this period, such as the Institut für Landeskunde [Institute for regional studies], the “Mittelstelle für die Heimathäuser und Ortsmuseen” [administration for local traditional houses and local museums] and the Adalbert-Stifter-Institut.
After the first sections became publically accessible in 1963, the Schlossmuseum was ceremonially inaugurated in 1966 as the Museum for the Cultural History of the State. Most of the depots in the Francisco-Carolinum were liquidated between 1985 and 1997. In 1986 the Landesgalerie - its collection had been entrusted to the museum in 1903 and had been presented since 1924 in a painting gallery together with the museum’s works - was reactivated and reopened as an institution for the promotion of contemporary art. The premises this freed up were then able to be used as spacious exhibition areas.
The completion of the Biologiezentrum in Linz-Dornach in 1993 brought about additional spatial relief. This houses the botanical and entomological as well as other parts of the zoological collections of the Landesmuseum. The outsourced sections of the collection are housed in a depot in Linz-Urfahr. Smaller natural science exhibition are also on display in the Biologiezentrum.
Due to the Capital of Culture year, the southern wing of the Schlossmuseum destroyed by fire in the year 1800 was finally able to be rebuilt in a modern form and reopened in 2009. The new southern wing integrated in the historic castle structure represents the achievement of a first step in the renovation and restructuring of the entire “Schlossmuseum Linz” complex. In addition to a contemporary foyer and ceremonial hall as well as a large room for special exhibitions, new permanent exhibitions are held in the annex, such as “Natur Oberösterreich” [Upper Austrian Nature] and “Technik Oberösterreich” [Upper Austrian Technology]. This also makes it possible for the Schlossmuseum Linz to offer extensive insight into Upper Austria’s entire history of art, culture, nature and technology.
In addition to the Linz locations, the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum maintains other museums and monuments in Linz und Upper Austria (Anton-Bruckner-Museum Ansfelden, Freilichtmuseum Sumerauerhof St. Florian, Kubin-Haus Zwickledt, Mühlviertler Schlossmuseum Freistadt, Oberösterreichisches Schifffahrtsmuseum Grein, Photomuseum Bad Ischl, Stelzhamer-Gedenkstätte Pramet, military history collection in Schloss Ebelsberg).
MILESTONES OF THE INSTITUTION’S HISTORY
On 10 February 1833 Anton Reichsritter von Spaun requested permission from the President of the government and the Upper Austrian Landstände [the provincial legislature], Count Ugarte, to establish a museum association.
The museum was to be a collection and research facility for all areas of regional studies. The natural sciences and technology were excluded from Spaun’s plan but had to be included at Ugarte’s request. Nine months later Emperor Franz I approved the formation of the “Verein des vaterländischen Museums für Österreich ob der Enns mit Inbegriff des Herzogthums Salzburg” [Association of homeland museums for Austria on the Enns including the Salzburg duchy]. One year later the association had already registered over 800 members. The statutes in 1835 already provided for four subjects and collection areas, which are still being processed in the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum today: Historical and topographical development, the artistic (= art), natural history and technology (= applied arts, devices, machines, models, etc.).
The former civil servants’ house in the courtyards behind the Landstände’s casino at the promenade in Linz served as the first museum building.
On 28 January 1839 Archduke Franz Karl took over the protectorate of the museum association and the museum. The newly opened museum building on Museumstrasse 14 was later (in 1895) named after him: “Francisco-Carolinum”. He was followed by Crown Prince Archduke Rudolf after his death in the year 1878. Chairman of the association was the respective governor, numerous members worked free of charge as experts in the various specialised areas.
In 1895 the Museum Francisco-Carolinum was opened on the Museumstrasse as a typical example of a Historicism building (today: Landesgalerie), according to plans drafted by German architect Bruno Schmitz. It was the impressive manifestation of the bourgeoisie’s new self-image and self-awareness, which used a representative building to give expression to its collection holdings and knowledge of Upper Austrian nature, art and cultural history.
With the opening of the Francisco-Carolinum the Landesgalerie, which had been founded in 1854 by the Oberösterreichischer Kunstverein at the suggestion of its Vice President, Adalbert Stifter for the “refinement and education of the bourgeoisie”, also relocated into the new museum building. Thus around 40 years after it was established, the Landesgalerie was for the first time physically as well as organisationally integrated in the museum. The continuously growing image collection increasingly merged with the inventory and identity of the museum, the term “Landesgalerie” lost its original meaning.
The opening the Francisco-Carolinum brought about a renewed increase in donations. The ever increasing number of collection objects, in any event, brought about a growing demand for space, which limited the natural sciences section in particular.
The attempt was made to mitigate the urgent need for space by renting storage spaces. A glimmer of hope were the intensive preparations to design the Linz castle as a cultural history museum for the State of Upper Austria, which began in 1960.
Under the last president of the association and the museum, Julius Wimmer, there was a transfer of ownership of the museum to the State of Upper Austria due to the commercial difficulties of the post-war period in 1920. From then on the museum was designated as the “Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum”.
Organisational changes in the collection and research activities after 1946 entailed new spatial requirements and thematic specialisations. New institutions emerged from the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum during this period, such as the Institut für Landeskunde [Institute for Regional Studies], the “Mittelstelle für die Heimathäuser und Ortsmuseen” [administration for local traditional houses and local museums] and the Adalbert-Stifter-Institut.
Following a partial opening of the first sections in the year 1963, the entire opening of the Schlossmuseum as a museum for the cultural history of the state was celebrated in 1966. Important parts of the Francisco-Carolinum collection went to the Schlossmuseum. The cultural history display collections found a home in the castle, whereas the natural science inventory, the cultural science study collections and the library were to remain in the Francisco-Carolinum head office. The planned installation of the natural history collections in any event receded far into the distance, attempts were made to bridge these gaps with special natural science exhibitions.
Most of the storage rooms in the head office were liquidated in 1985. The Roman Age, Prehistory and Early History, Minerology and Geology departments with their respective collection holdings were housed at the Welser Strasse site. In 1986 the Landesgalerie, its inventory administered by the museum since 1903 and presented since 1924 with the museum’s collection holdings, was reactivated as an institution for the promotion of contemporary art in Francisco-Carolinum. The ceremonial hall was reopened at the same time in its original condition.
Until 1997 natural science and occasionally also cultural science exhibitions continued to be held on the first floor of the head office. Afterwards the Landesgalerie was able to use all of the exhibition area in the head office. Housed on the Museumstrasse is also the Landesmuseum’s extensive graphic collection with the world’s largest collection of the works of Alfred Kubin. To provide insight into his extensive oeuvre, a Kubin cabinet was erected with changing exhibitions. The Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum’s library, board, administration and additional departments concerned with additional locations are located on the ground floor.
The Landesgalerie is currently the specialised institution of the State of Upper Austria for modern and contemporary art. Exhibitions are held in the historic building, the content of which ranges from “classical modernity” to photography and media installations by young artists.
The 70s and 80s were characterised by intensive efforts to arrange a new building for the natural sciences. The dissolution of older and filling up of newer depots demanded a great deal of work capacity. In 1985 most of the depot rooms in the head office were dissolved. In 1993 the museum’s spatial bottlenecks were in part countered by opening the Biologiezentrum in Linz-Dornach.
The Biologiezentrum houses the Landesmuseum’s botanical and entomological as well as additional parts of the zoological collections. Additional collection inventory were removed to a depot in Linz-Urfahr. For years the Biologiezentrum has enjoyed an excellent reputation at national and international levels as a research centre for natural history topics. Regular smaller natural science exhibitions are also held in the Biologiezentrum. Approx. one hectare of land around the building was designed as an eco-park. It is available to visitors for the purposes of study, observation and recreation and houses the live collections of the botany department.
An extensive permanent exhibition “Natur Oberösterreich” [Upper Austrian Nature] as well as larger natural science special exhibitions can be viewed in the Schlossmuseum Linz.
Due to the Capital of Culture year, the Schlossmuseum’s southern wing destroyed by fire in the year 1800 was rebuilt in a modern form and reopened in 2009.
The new southern wing integrated in the historic castle structure represents a first step towards comprehensive renovation and restructuring of the entire “Schlossmuseum Linz” complex. In addition to a contemporary foyer and ceremonial hall as well as a large room for special exhibitions, the annex houses the new permanent exhibitions “Natur Oberösterreich” [Upper Austrian Nature] and “Technik Oberösterreich” [Upper Austrian Technology]. Hence it is now also possible on over 10,000 m² in the Schlossmuseum Linz to gain extensive insight into the entire history of Upper Austrian art, nature and technology: From the beginning of life in Upper Austria approx. 250 million years ago to early human settlements and on to the 20th century. Special exhibitions supplement the permanent exhibitions with current international and regional topics.