Universalmuseum Joanneum


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.

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Developments in the 19th and 20th centuries

In the following years, the collections were moved to the Lesliehof, a former aristocratic palazzo at no. 10 Raubergasse. Also part of the reorganized museum was the Styrian Estates’ Drawing Academy – originally set up by engraver Johann Veit Kauperz (1741-1815) – and its collection of art. It was – like the Joanneum’s collections – originally an ancillary collection used for teaching purposes. This ‘Styrian Picture Gallery’ was greatly expanded in the 19th century after a great number of high-quality works of art were given by generous patrons.

Despite the first 19th-century reorganization, more space was needed soon after, and between 1890 and 1895 a new museum building designed by August Gunolt in a Viennese Baroque Revival style was constructed in Neutorgasse, in the immediate vicinity of the Lesliehof. This imposing building was home to the Museum of Cultural History, Arts and Crafts, which included items relating to mediaeval art. The Styrian Picture Gallery also moved to this new address.

In 1941, the Gallery was subdivided, with separate departments for art up to about 1800 (Alte Galerie) and more modern art (Neue Galerie).

Over the 20th century, further collections were added to the Joanneum, so that now the Joanneum Universal Museum has nine buildings of historic interest available for its collections, plus buildings of high-quality contemporary architecture.


Find out more about the history of restitution at the Universalmuseum Joanneum.


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