In 1811, Archduke Johann of Austria (1782-1859) and the estates of Styria jointly set up the Joanneum as an ‘inner Austrian national museum’. Archduke Johann, brother of the Austrian emperor Franz I, was a wholehearted supporter of the educational ideals of the Enlightenment, and expected this first public museum of Austria to be set up as a comprehensive collection of the things that ‘nature, the changing times, human industry and perseverance have created that teachers of the various public institutions instil into the enquiring minds of their pupils. It must bring these things to life and thereby make learning easier [and] stimulate a thirst for knowledge.’
Nature – alongside technology, history and folk life – was a great passion of the Habsburg archduke, who was extremely popular in Styria because of his extensive efforts to promote the common good. Thus, in accordance with his principal interests, the Joanneum was, initially, first and foremost an educational institution oriented towards natural history and technology.
Leading natural philosophers of the 19th century such as Friedrich Mohs (who developed the Mohs scale of mineral hardness in Graz) and Franz Xaver Unger (one of the pioneers of palaeobotany) taught at the Joanneum, which in 1864 gained the status of Imperial (k.k.) Technical College.
Reorganized in 1975 as the Archduke Johann University of Technology in Graz with five faculties, the educational side was thereafter separated both geographically and organizationally from the museum collections, which had been combined in a unified Styrian Museum back in 1887.