The history of the Archaeology Museum

Archaeology has been an inherent part of the museum’s work ever since the Joanneum was founded in 1811. It started out as part of the history department with the “archive” collection of prehistoric and early historical sources relating to the history of the country.  The establishment of the museum was accompanied by Archduke Johann’s appeal for the population to submit all antiquities found in the Duchy of Styria to the Joanneum. This caused considerable ill feeling in the imperial antique collections in Vienna: the imperial and royal court chancellery took rigorous steps to halt this initiative in 1812 – the archaeological finds had to be sent back to Vienna. Excavations on the part of the Joanneum ceased for the first few decades until this obligation was finally rescinded in 1846.

An archaeological cabinet was set up at the Karl-Franzens University in 1865. Its director, Friedrich Pichler, also headed the Joanneum’s “Coin and Antiques Cabinet” which was founded in 1869. Finally, the “Prehistoric Collection, Antiques and Coin Cabinet” department was created at the Joanneum in 1887, thus broadening the range of specialist subject areas. Wilhelm Gurlitt became its director in 1890 and was also appointed senior professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Graz in the same year.

Until the appointment of an archaeologist to the Styrian Conservatory Department at the Federal Historic Monuments Office in 1986, responsibility for the practical care of archaeological monuments lay in the hands of archaeologists at the Joanneum and the Historical Association for Inner Austria (founded 1843), which became independent as the Historical Association for Styria in 1850, and which was closely associated with the Joanneum. This association carried out its own excavations and transferred its extensive collection (including the Strettweg Chariot) to the Joanneum in 1859. After that time, from 1859 until independent collecting activities finally ceased, finds collected in the reporting year were handed over to the museum on an annual basis. With the appointment of Karl Haas in 1855, the Historical Association for Styria appointed the first professional Styrian archaeologist.

Initially, the archaeological collection at the Joanneum consisted primarily of artefacts that had been donated. Objects from ancient Mediterranean civilisations were purchased for the purposes of comparison in the second half of the 19th century. At the same time, the “Hallstatt Period” and “Roman Imperial Period” emerged as the two focal points of archaeological research and account for the most significant objects in the Archaeological Collections.

The second half of the 20th century witnessed a process of differentiation. Separate departments were founded for prehistory and early history and for provincial Roman archaeology and numismatics. In fact the archaeological collections had already been divided up among several sites of the Joanneum:

The collections of the “Coin and Antiques Cabinet” and the later “Prehistoric Collection, Antiques and Coin Cabinet” department had been exhibited in the central Joanneum building in the Raubergasse from the time they were first set up until 1971. Due to lack of space, medieval and modern objects had already been shifted to the Prandstetter-Teimersche building in the Schmiedgasse in 1889. In 1965 the Roman stone collection was moved to Schloss Eggenberg and presented in a shelter at the Schlosspark. The “Museum of Prehistory and Early History” was set up on the ground floor of the Schloss in 1971, a development which was followed by the opening of the “Coin and Antiques Cabinet” in 1982.

The closing of these two museums in 2004 and 2005 paved the way for a new beginning. In 2009 these subject areas were finally re-incorporated into the Archaeology & Coin Cabinet department. 

Archaeology Museum, Schloss Eggenberg

Eggenberger Allee 90
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9560


Opening Hours

April to October Tue-Sun, public holidays 10am-6pm 
1 November to 17 December only with guided tour by prior appointment

Opening Hours Library
Tues-Fri 10am - 12pm and afternoons by appointment only