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Museums

THYSSEN MUSEUM MADRID

IN THE HEART OF MADRID
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
Paseo del Prado, 8
28014 Madrid

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation is a public foundation that was created in 1988. It is responsible for the management of the museum, the conservation of its works, carrying out research, organising public exhibitions and promoting the artworks that were acquired by the
Spanish State in 1993. Since 2004 it has been responsible for the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection that is on long-term loan to the Spanish State and for the expansion of the Villahermosa Palace. Since the museum opened its doors to the public in 1992, it has offered an increasingly varied number of temporary exhibitions, educational events and cultural and commercial activities.
The team that ensures the smooth running of the museum has increased continually over the years. However it is each team member’s vision and drive that carries the museum forward.

The museum has always emphasised its goal of promoting its collection by organising various events and programmes aimed at different audiences. This continues to be a key objective together with ensuring that we offer quality and innovation to our visitors and partners. The museum’s strategy is to achieve a streamlined administrative management by maximising income whilst controlling the necessary expenses involved in carrying out an extensive cultural offering.  We also guarantee the excellent condition of our exhibitions rooms and the maintenance and quality of our facilities and services. With our transparent and efficient management we are committed to being a leading example of a Spanish cultural institution. The foundation is governed by a board of trustees, the highest governing body, made of up to twelve members: four senior officials within the Ministries of Culture and Finance (active or retired), including the Minister of Culture, who is also the President of the Board; four trustees appointed by the Council of Ministers by Royal Decree (i.e. government patrons); and four trustees chosen by the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, including the Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza, who holds the lifetime position of Vice-President.

HISTORY
 Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (1921−2002) was born. The baron inherited his father’s collection in 1947, completed it by acquiring further classic masterpieces, and began assembling one of the finest private collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century painting in 1961. Concerned with preserving his collection intact and sharing it with as many people as possible, in 1988 he made a pledge to lend 775 works to the Spanish state and five years later signed a sale agreement. All the centenary activities pay tribute to the baron, to whom the museum wishes to thank for his decisive  contribution to culturally enriching our country and sharing with visitors – both in person and virtual – the conviction that art can change the world and make people freer.

Belvedere: A museum that matters

The preservation of heritage and embrace of the new.

The Belvedere is a World Heritage Site, a Baroque jewel, and the site of the Austrian State Treaty. It is both one of the oldest museums in the world and a venue for contemporary art. As one of the largest cultural institutions in the country and an Austrian landmark, we are faced with the challenge of evolving amidst the differing priorities of cultural and scientific demands, loyalty to the local community and tourism. While we follow our mission to preserve the past, we also seek to break new ground. We stand as a mediator of history and as an inconvenient interrogator of the present. We are the country’s cultural hub of international standing, and exist in the transnational digital space.

The Belvedere is a museum of influence, a museum of relevance.

A museum of relevance has a presence in people’s minds and hearts. It is a point of reference in a disorienting present. A historical constant, it links the past with the future. It is independent. It sees itself as a learning and teaching organization. A museum of relevance takes a stand on contemporary issues and social policy. It raises its voice for art and its democratizing potential. It takes responsibility for ecological concerns about the planet. Its contribution to the development of society promotes social justice. Its attitude sets an example, its voice is heard.

Art is for everyone.

Culture is not a luxury for the so-called elite, but the foundation of a free society. Our exhibitions, educational programs, events, and digital content cater to a broad, diverse public, that is, everyone. We communicate in a credible, understandable, and interactive way, addressing real-life topics and current issues. For our visitors, this opens new perspectives and broadens the scope of action. They leave the museum richer for having entered.

The Belvedere is a place of engagement.

We are curious to see how our work is perceived and eager to learn from visitors and different communities. We provide a setting to bring people together. The diversity of our local community and the internationality of our visitors are reflected in – besides the Belvedere team itself – our exhibitions, in the topics we explore, and in our programs, which are driven by an equal appreciation for all.

Art, research, and education are our core domains.

The collection is at the heart of our work. Our mission is to bring historical art into the present by recognizing and conveying each work as an expression of an astute and creative contemporaneity. Respect and appreciation are the hallmarks of our collaboration with contemporary artists, as is our commitment to communicating their work in the best way possible. As scholars, we operate within networks. We share our knowledge, openly discuss research results, and learn from these exchanges.

BELVEDERE MUSEUM VIENNA

Lower Belvedere

Rennweg 6, 1030 Vienna

Closed

Upper Belvedere

Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna

Tuesday to Sunday

10 am – 6 pm

Belvedere 21

Arsenalstraße 1, 1030 Vienna

Tuesday to Sunday

11 am – 6 pm

History 

The unique, overall complex, with its two palaces, the Upper and Lower Belvedere, and their extensive gardens, is one of the most stunning Baroque architectural ensembles in the world. In the 18th century, the Austrian general Prince Eugene of Savoy commissioned the renowned Baroque architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt to build a summer residence. After the death of Prince Eugene, Empress Maria Theresa acquired the entire complex and transformed the Upper Belvedere into an exhibition venue for the imperial collections – making it one of the first public museums in the world. The Marble Hall was the venue for important historical events and now offers an unparalleled view of Vienna. The Lower Belvedere, formerly the residence of Prince Eugene, is home to illustrious exhibitions. The modern pavilion of the Belvedere 21, by architect Karl Schwanzer, sets the stage for contemporary art.

Construction under Prince Eugene of Savoy 

1712

Construction work begins at the Lower Belvedere.

1717

Work begins at the Upper Belvedere. 

1718

The extensive works on the Baroque park are complete; planned by the French garden architect Dominique Girard, they reflect his expertise of water technology and garden design acquired while working in Versailles.

1719

The Turkish ambassador Ibrahim Pasha is received at the Upper Belvedere. Francesco Solimena, the greatest exponent of Neapolitan painting in his day, is commissioned to paint an altarpiece in the palace chapel and the ceiling painting in the Gold Cabinet. Prince Eugene selects Italian frescoist Gaetano Fanti for the illusionist architectural painting in the Marble Hall. 

1720

Carlo Carlone, a pioneer of the Rococo style, is commissioned to paint the ceiling fresco in the Upper Belvedere’s Marble Hall.

 1723

Completion of the Upper Belvedere.

 1732

To improve its structural stability, the Sala Terrena is remodelled into its current form by Hildebrandt.

 The Belvedere after Prince Eugen’s Death

1736

On April 21, Prince Eugene of Savoy dies in his Vienna City Palace. As he did not leave a legally valid will, a commission tasked by Emperor Charles VI appoints his niece Princess Victoria as his heir.

1752

Maria Theresa acquires the Belvedere estates.

 1770

Lavish celebrations mark the marriage of the Emperor’s daughter Maria Antonia to the French Dauphin, the future Louis XVI, on April 17 at the Belvedere. 

The Palace as Museum

1776

Maria Theresa and her son, Emperor Joseph II, decide to move the Imperial Picture Gallery from the Stallburg to the Upper Belvedere. In keeping with the ideals of Enlightened Absolutism, the imperial collection is to be made accessible to the public.

1781

Inauguration of the Picture Gallery at the Upper Belvedere, hence becoming one of the world’s first public museums.

1888

The imperial collections are relocated to the newly built Kunsthistorisches Museum. After its opening on October 17, 1891, the Belvedere palaces, for a time, are not used as a museum..

The Residence

1896

By decree of Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1896, the Upper Belvedere becomes the residence of the heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand. The building undergoes renovations led by ministerial architect Emil von Förster.

The Modern Gallery

1903

The Modern Gallery opens in the Lower Belvedere as a state museum and counterpart to the imperial collections. The intent behind its founding is to present Austrian art in an international context. The collection is enriched by acquisitions from the Ministry of Culture and the Association of Fine Artists Austria–Vienna Secession as well as by donations from private individuals. 

1908

Gustav Klimt’s Art Nouveau icon, The Kiss (Lovers), is acquired by the Imperial Ministry of Culture and Education for the Modern Gallery.

 1912

The Modern Gallery is converted into the Austrian State Gallery, showcasing a cross-section of Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present day. The collection’s holdings are complemented by loans from the Association of Friends of the State Gallery.

 1915

Director Franz Martin Haberditzl 

Extensive expansion of the collection, with prestigious donations and permanent loans from patrons such as the Bloch-Bauer, Lederer, and Wittgenstein families among others. At the request of Adele Bloch-Bauer, some of Gustav Klimt’s portraits are entrusted to the Austrian State Gallery on permanent loan.

1918

The Austrian Gallery is expanded to include both the Upper and Lower Belvedere.

1938

Director Bruno Grimschitz

Close connections between the museum administration and Nazi authorities are evidenced both by the considerable acquisition budget for “native German art” and by the closure of the Modern Gallery under the false claim of “saving degenerate art from confiscation.” Despite substantial measures of recovery, important works such as Gustav Klimt’s faculty paintings are lost.

1945

During World War II the palaces are severely damaged. Bomb strikes destroy parts of the Marble Hall of the Upper Belvedere and the Hall of Grotesques in the Lower Belvedere. Beginning in 1945, the Belvedere palaces undergo reconstruction and renovation.

 1953

On completion of repair work, museum operations at the Upper Belvedere resume as the Austrian Gallery.

1955

On May 15, the Austrian State Treaty is signed at the Upper Belvedere: “Austria is free!”

 1968

Director Hans Aurenhammer

Exhibition programming is determined by the ministry in charge.

 1982

Director Hubert Adolph

The 1980s are marked by financial constraints and shortened opening hours.

 1992

Director Gerbert Frodl

The 1990s bring about the modernization of federal museums under the heading “A Billion for our Museums.” The two palaces undergo extensive renovations and the collections are restructured. Major exhibitions such as Claude Monet (1996), Klimt’s Women (2000), and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt attract international attention and set new visitor records.

 2002

The 20er Haus, a pavilion created by Karl Schwanzer for the 1958 World Exhibition in Brussels, is integrated into the Austrian Gallery.

 2007

Director Agnes Husslein-Arco

Installation of a White Cube at the Orangery; remodeling of the 20er Haus and reopening as the 21er Haus; enhancement of the research mandate under the umbrella of the Research Center. The Winter Palais is added as an additional exhibition venue. The Upper Belvedere is positioned as a tourist magnet.

2016

Dieter Bogner, Chief Financial Officer

 2017

Stella Rollig, Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director

Wolfgang Bergmann, Chief Financial Officer

2018

Single-brand strategy of the Belvedere with three locations:

Lower Belvedere, Upper Belvedere, and the Belvedere 21 (formerly 21er Haus).

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