Austrian Theatre Museum in Wien

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The Austrian Theatre Museum, or Österreichisches Theatermuseum, is the national museum of theatre history in Austria. It is situated in the Palais Lobkowitz in Vienna.


The museum has its origins in the theatre-related collections that accrued to the Austrian National Library, which included not only books and ephemera but also many other sorts of theatrical objects. This was a long-established tradition: the Hofbibliothek had been assembling theatricalia since the late 17th century. In 1922 the theatrical collections were set up as a separate organisation, under the directorship of Joseph Gregor (1888-1960), who with his spectacular exhibition from the library holdings in the same year succeeded in attracting the gift of the enormous private collection of theatre items belonging to Hugo Thimig, director of the Burgtheater.

The idea of a theatre museum was also put forward at this time, and during the 1930s a suite of rooms in the Burgtheater was set aside for this purpose, but the endeavour ceased in 1938.

The Austrian Theatre Museum was not established until 1975, initially in premises next to the Wiener Oper, with the prime function of arranging exhibitions of the material in the National Library. The premises were however too small, and at length the Austrian Government acquired and renovated the Palais Lobkowitz, opened as the Österreichisches Theatermuseum on 26 October 1991.

The new museum combined the care of the printed and archival items from the National Library collections with that of museum objects. In 2001 the Theatre Museum ceased to be part of the National Library and instead became part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.


The museum holds in excess of 100,000 drawings; 1,000 set and architect's models; over 700,000 photos; approximately 2,000 objects relating to famous actors, dramatists and composers; and costumes, props and so on to designs by Kokoschka and Wotruba. In total it comprises more than 2,000,000 separate objects.

The library contains about 80,000 books and periodicals, and unlike the rest of the collections is technically still the property of the National Library, on permanent loan to the Theatre Museum.

A special room is devoted to the Jugendstil artist Richard Teschner (1879–1948).


The galleries have been closed since November 2008 to allow for a thorough refurbishment of the building and facilities. The museum is scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2010 with a major exhibition on the works of Mahler.