Hunting Museum Schloss Stainz

Permanent exhibition

Venue: Jagdmuseum

For millenia, hunting has been an integral part of human life. The hunting museum at Schloss Stainz showcases hunting culture in all its facets, not only presenting an extensive synopsis in terms of cultural history but also focusing on the interaction of man and nature.

Innovative presentation at Schloss Stainz

In an innovative presentation unique in Austria, our visitors learn many interesting facts about this phenomenon that holds great fascination for mankind. The visitor is introduced to the secrets of hunting with magnificent exhibits from the collections and interactive installations, excursions into the history of civilisation, rounded off by historical weapons and technical equipment.

The museum of hunting at Schloss Stainz sees hunting as a historical, sociological and philosophical-ethical phenomenon and appeals to a wide audience thanks to its interdisciplinary, cross-cultural approach. Our visitors encounter the "romantic hunter" and "wild rebel", but also historical weapons, Thomas Bernhard's "The Hunting Party" or wonder cures from folk medicine. On the second floor, finally, the tour continues as an exciting stalking exercise, where visitors can look out for animal tracks and listen to animal sounds. In addition, visitors also learn many interesting facts about current issues of wildlife ecology and the tasks of modern hunting.

The innovative presentation not only fits in consummately with the historical setting of Schloss Stainz, it also spotlights the long-standing tradition of hunting in Styria, particularly the founder of the Joanneum Provincial Museum, Archduke John, who was known as a passionate hunter. 


Exhibition tour

Human History as Hunting History?

For almost 500,000 years, the daily life of human beings is governed by hunting. A strenuous undertaking that demands great vigilance and strength and whose success or failure often means the difference between having enough to eat or going hungry.

Only about 10,000 years ago man frees himself from the necessity to hunt game: for nourishment he begins to grow plants and breed animals. In this for human history relatively short period of 10,000 years, hunting undergoes many changes.

The exhibition touches on various epochs, each of which reflects a different understanding of hunting. In the Stone Age it means nourishment, in the Baroque period it serves as entertainment and as a sign of status and wealth.

The Romantic notion idealizes hunting as a rapturous experience with nature. And today it is defined by economic and ecological interests. We examine hunting from a special point of view: When and in which way did it strongly influence human history – and are we aware of this?


Exhibition view,

Come with us!

Find out more during a virtual tour through the permanent exhibition in the Hunting Museum! Click through the individual exhibition rooms!

1st Floor. Hunting Trophy as Decoration and Research Object Expand Box

The trophies exhibited here in the arcades are part of a collection gathered in Central Europe by the colonel, Baron von Feldegg in the period from 1838-1844. His collection, however, is not just a matter of personal prestige but instead serves to satisfy his scientific interest in questions of the hunt. Von Feldegg keeps detailed records as to where the individual pieces have been found and also commissions precise watercolour drawings of the objects.

At the end of the 19th century the collection changes into the hands of Count Lamberg who uses the stately trophies as imposing decoration for Trautenfels Castle located in the Styrian Enns Valley.

After World War II, the Joanneum acquires this outstanding collection. The trophies and documentation constitute an irreplaceable source of scientific knowledge about game populations in the early 19th century across wide regions of Europe.


Innovative Thrust in the Stone Age: Spear, Spear Thrower and Throwing Stick Expand Box

For almost five hundred thousand years, wild fruits and game caught in traps provide nourishment for the small roving groups of people that populate Central Europe. About 400,000 years ago hunters invent the spear, thus improving their chances of success while at the same time reducing the mortal dangers of close combat with wild animals. From the skins and bones of wild animals they fashion clothing, tools and jewellery. 

A tremendous innovative thrust is the invention of the spear thrower (or atlatl) about 30 to 20,000 years ago: it is the first technical aid that multiplies muscle power and thus considerably increases the range and force of the spear. The small nomadic groups now have better chances of survival.

Over thousands of years – and even today – the technical improvement of weapons used for killing animals (and humans) acts as a strong impulse for human innovation.


Hunting in the Baroque Era: Killing as Courtly Spectacle Expand Box

During the Baroque era, the ruling nobility turns hunting into an extravagant spectacle for the courtly society. It develops into a central element of absolutist representation and entertainment. Elaborate staging demands that the largest possible number of game should be killed – this requires large game populations in the hunting territories.

Farmers pay the price since they are not reimbursed for the damage caused by browsing game. Furthermore, the country dwellers – who are not allowed to hunt themselves – must help during the hunt without being paid. It is only since the reign of Emperor Charles the Great in the 8th century that hunting is reserved for the ruling classes.

Citizens and farmers remain excluded from the hunt for almost a thousand years. Whoever ignores this rule must reckon with severe punishment. By contrast, in the early Middle Ages everyone had the right to hunt.

Hunting Techniques Expand Box

In the course of thousands of years, humans have developed many different hunting techniques, simple as well as highly complicated ones: From the multifarious methods of setting traps, to shooting with bow and arrow, and hunting with firearms.

Also included is the use of lures and decoys. The more precise the hunting weapons, the more sophisticated the hunting techniques – and vice versa.

Illegal hunting, especially in the 19th century, contributed considerably to the eradication of several animal species. In addition, regulations classified certain kinds of animals, such as the bear and the wolf, as a danger to humans – whoever shot them received prize-money!

Today hunting techniques are subject to strict game laws. Many of the methods that were common over hundreds and thousands of years are now forbidden because they are considered too cruel or too dangerous. In Austria, regulations may vary from province to province.

The “Lonely Hunter” Citizens Take to the Hunt Expand Box

A development at the end of the 18th century has a decisive effect on today’s notion of hunting: in Europe the romanticizing of nature blooms. Literature and art deal with man’s desire to become one with nature, to experience nature in a direct and highly personal manner.

The lonely hunter in harmony with nature emerges as ideal – he replaces the courtly hunting society that stages the hunt as a conquest of nature. From now on, hunting in the mountains with all its dangers and difficulties is considered the ultimate sport.

The nobility still possesses the sole right to hunt. Only after the revolution of 1848/49 are common citizens entitled to this privilege. The development demands new norms and modern legislation that determine who, when, where, and how much can be hunted. They form the basis for today’s general game laws.

Magic and Murals Expand Box

Magical and mythological pictures have always been part of the hunt: Stone Age cave drawings should bring hunters good luck, animated hunting scenes enliven the world of the ancient gods.

In modern times, depictions of the hunt no longer serve as the means to another end, but primarily constitute an independent artistic expression. Especially in the Baroque Period, enormous animal and hunting pictures decorate noble summer residences and hunting castles; one finds pleasure in the clash between hound and wild animal, between tamed and wild nature.

Hunting scenes embellish artfully crafted articles of daily use and decorative objects made of precious metal, glass and pottery that are used to furnish hunting castles.

Hunting and Music Expand Box

From very early times – some scholars even think from the Stone Age – musical tones are an important part of hunting: with signals, blown on animal horns, groups of hunters communicate with each other over
large distances. The oldest written tonal sequences of hunting signals date from the year 1394.

A revolutionary step from single-tone signals to actual music took place in the 17th century: the French trompe de chasse (hunting horn, parforce horn) produces signals that are dominated by threetone harmonies. Thus the theme of hunting enters the world of opera and orchestra music.

In Austria a special type of instrument for hunting was developed which imitated the soft sounds of the alpine horn. Hunting music is closely related to folk music and for a long time remains one-tonal in nature. At the end of the 19th century it experiences a heyday with the music of Josef Schantl: He composes four-tone fanfare pieces that are also played during celebrations and parades.

Hunting and Literature Expand Box

Hunting plays an important role in literature from ancient times: descriptions of the hunt are handed down by word of mouth and are also found in poetry. Hunting should build character, here the heroes display strength and courage. Whether it is Odysseus of Antiquity or Siegfried of the Middle Ages, when heroes hunt, the battle is one of life or death. Important is the dominance over nature.

This point of view changes only in the 19th century with the arrival of Romanticism. Hunting scenes now exude sentimental feelings toward nature and love. Homeland novels written at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century unite all these themes: religion, heroism, experience with and in nature and romanticism.

Finally, literature in the late 20th century considers the hunt as symbol of a conservative and rigid society. The hunter is no longer a hero, but instead a leftover from times long gone.

Mementos of Everyday Life Expand Box

Drinking-cups made of ibex horn, chairs fashioned from antlers, pipes in the shape of hounds’ heads, hunters and game on pitchers, plates and cupboards: Since the 19th century, items of daily life and decorative objects depicting the theme of hunting have become popular. The motifs refer back to depictions for rulers and nobility, and often show typical hunting clichés.

Although the choice of motifs is limited, these are carried out with sometimes unusual techniques on – or with – a wide variety of materials: ceramic, glass, horn, stone. Very often animals with religious or symbolic meaning are portrayed. For instance, the stag is believed to embody strength, grandeur, pride and authority, each of these qualities being assigned to a different part of the body.

Folk medicine then delivers recipes for how to transfer the characteristics of game – not only of stags – to human beings.

Hunting in Film Expand Box

Numerous film directors have taken various approaches to the theme of hunting in their works: from the early days of silent pictures to present times, in documentaries and feature films, in blockbusters and art films.

One of the first documentaries to be shown publicly in Austria – at the First International Hunting Exhibition in 1910 – shows Emperor Franz Josef while hunting chamois.

A hunting film from the 1950’s, “Der Förster vom Silberwald” (The Forester of Silver Woods) becomes a model for all following homeland movies. Stereotyped images, usually taken from novels, describe the battle between good and evil, hunter versus poacher.

In a changing programme, the films shown here present the theme of hunting from various perspectives.

Guess who I am! Expand Box

A colourful feather at the side of the trail, a chewed-up fir cone under a tree, a footprint in the soft ground – what animal could be hiding behind these clues? We share our environment with many different wild animals; in order to keep it this way, they need our protection. And thus we must know who they are and where and how they live.

There are surprising and interesting things to discover: For example, how do animals see? Did you know that a rabbit’s field of vision is greater than that of a panorama camera? Or did you know that deer are colour-blind? Would you like to know more about wild animals? Join in our games and sharpen your perception!

What’s that roaring, crowing, buzzing, growling, chirping? Expand Box

What do you estimate: How many animal species live in Styria? From tiny ants to red stags or renaturalized bears, from ducks to eagles – who has seen them all in one place? Is it even possible to see them in one place?

One hundred and twenty of them occupy this room! Listen carefully: What animal makes this noise? Where can we hear them: In forests or wetlands, in fields or meadows, on alpine pastures or in high mountain regions, by day or by night? Listen! The animals let you know!


The Shot Expand Box

We hear a shot; a bullet strikes; an animal falls! What has happened? In a matter of seconds the hunter has decided whether a shot from this position will ensure the animal’s fast and painless death – or if there is the danger that it will be injured and suffer before dying. Hunters possess ballistic knowledge and know how bullets fly and what effect they cause when they hit.

Modern precision firearms are the result of an 800-year history of development: In the first firearms, a smoldering slow-match is dropped into a pan of priming powder. Later a small steel wheel rotates against a piece of iron pyrite thus producing sparks that ignite the powder.

Up to present-day rifles, speed and accuracy have continued to grow, aided in addition by the technical refinement of modern ammunition.

An animal’s invitation: Get to know my home! Expand Box

You create your own living environment: in your home, in the garden, in the city and also outside in nature – yes, we animals live there, too! And there we can only be happy if.....

Do you know how we really live? Look for and visit our habitats!

“Spotting” – what does that mean? Expand Box

Does “spotting” make you think of an allergic rash? Or perhaps animal markings? Actually this is a term used in hunting jargon.

When hunters “spot” game they determine the game’s location, gender, age and condition of health from a distance. Why? In order to decide whether one may or should shoot, one must first know the general condition of the individual animals.

Who tells the hunter which and how much game he should hunt in his territory? For this purpose an annual shooting plan is set up with the goal of maintaining a balance between the various inhabitants of an environment. For example, the plan should prevent that young trees suffer browsing by too much game or that one animal population multiplies too fast and extinguishes another species.

Who hunts? Expand Box

We’ve seen our cat do the same thing. As soon as a mouse runs, the cat shoots after it like an arrow. But why does it do that? There’s really no reason, or is there?

Another example: A hunter hunts a fox, the fox hunts a mouse. What’s the difference between the person and the fox? The person hunts because he wants to, and the fox because it is hungry? But: 25% of its diet consists of earthworms! Does it really need to catch prey in order to survive?

One could say that the hunter carries out a cultural activity while the fox follows its instinct. Does hunting mean the same thing to a fox and to a human being? What do you think?

2nd Floor. Wildlife Ecology: Animals and their habitats Expand Box

When hiking through woods and meadows in Styria, question after question arises: What animal is that? What call do I hear? Why have I never seen a wood grouse? Where does this bird actually live?

Like farmers and foresters, hunters must also be informed about wildlife habitats and their natural ecosystems in order to strike the right balance between the interests of humans and animals in their work.

Today no one is born a hunter. First one must pass a hunting examination. During preparation, one not only learns about hunting rules and methods; above all one trains something that would also bring you lots of pleasure: to walk through nature with open eyes and sharpened senses. The WILDLIFE ECOLOGY DEPARTMENT of the museum is designed around question and answer games.

They awaken and train your attention, present you with tasks that may also arise on your various hiking trips. A normal walk becomes a stalking experience. – Are you curious to know more?

Also visit:

Exhibition view,

Agriculture Museum Schloss Stainz

Farming tools and a collection of documentary photographs will tell you something about peasant work and everyday life before the industrialisation.  


Hunting Museum and Agriculture Museum, Schloss Stainz

Schlossplatz 1
8510 Stainz, Österreich
T +43-3463/2772-16


Opening Hours

April to November Tue-Sun, public holidays 10am - 5pm