Agriculture Museum Schloss Stainz

Permanent exhibition

Venue: Landwirtschaftsmuseum

About the exhibition

Stainz Castle was founded as an Augustine monastery in 1229. In 1840 Archduke Johann bought the Stainz estate. You will find out about the life, and the reformative verve of the ‘Styrian prince’ in the museum at Stainz Castle. Farming tools and a collection of documentary photographs will tell you something about peasant work and everyday life before the industrialisation.

Guided tours

If you are interested in a guided tour we happily accommodate your request.


Foto: UMJ/M. Zengerer

Exhibition tour

What is farming?

A momentous development in the history of civilisation began around 10,000 years ago, in the Neolithic Age: People who had lived as hunters and gatherers now began to grow plants and keep animals – they started to farm. This changed their lives fundamentally. They began to build houses and settle. This way of life is a pillar of our civilisation.

But what is farming today? Farmers produce food for society but also provide raw materials for the textile industry, building or medicine. While global competition demands bigger and bigger yields, in terms of ecology it makes sense to farm the land on a sustainable basis. Styrian farmers have to compete in this field of conflicting interests too.

The exhibition shows historical developments and basic principles, viewing them in context with the present day. It questions prevalent notions of what it means to be a farmer and gives an insight into their work and production. The main emphasis is on the changes caused by industrialisation in the nineteenth century and the consequences for today's farming industry.

Landwirtschaftsmuseum Schloss Stainz, Die Funktionen des Waldes, Infostelen

Come with us!

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

What's special about western Styria? Expand Box

The history and current situation of western Styria is intimately linked to agriculture. That is particularly true of Schloss Stainz: In former times it was an Augustinian canonical chapter, where local farmers had to pay tithes. Later it was acquired by Archduke Johann, the mayor of Stainz and great Styrian reformer. It was also Johann who planted the Blauer Wildbacher grape on his land, and today the area around Stainz is still the world's main growing region for Schilcher wine, that is made from this grape.

The hilly land, the abundance of water, the fertile soils, and the climate shielded by the mountains bounding Styria make western Styria a very special region.

Pumpkin-seed oil, scarlet runner beans, Schilcher & co. Expand Box


Western Styria is known for its produce far beyond the borders of the region. Today, Schilcher and other fine wines, pumpkin-seed oil, fish, sheep's milk cheese, sweet chestnuts and many other products are found in kitchens the world over. These products are constantly being refined, with unusual ideas and new processes complementing tried-and-tested methods.

The region itself has become a popular destination for tourists, recreationists and gourmets. Western Styrian farmers are at the heart of this popularity, skilfully combining traditional production methods with the latest developments.

Sow, harvest, sow: the cycle of nature Expand Box

In the Neolithic, our predecessors gathered seeds and put them in the ground. These seeds grew into plants with fruits to harvest. People built up stores of food for themselves and their pets. They kept part of the harvest for the next sowing – thus taking advantage of the cycle of nature, a fundamental principle of agricultural production to this day.


In this cycle, the changing seasons determine when to prepare the field, when to sow, and when to harvest. Every task requires special tools, and there is a time for each of them. That still applies to the modern-day machinery that has come to replace manual labour.

Not just food: raw materials from farming Expand Box

The basic task of agriculture is to provide people with food. But it also supplies raw materials for a wide range of industries and thus the basis for many products. You can find raw materials from agriculture everywhere: in fuel, in plastic bags, in plasters and in toys.

Scientific knowledge has radically changed how we cultivate plants and breed animals: They have become more resistant and bring greater yields, but at the same time ecological diversity is lost. In recent decades, many crop plants and farm animals have vanished from agriculture. Today farmers are once again trying to re-introduce them in order to have a large diversity of species for sustainable cultivation and breeding.

Try it yourself! Expand Box

Farming is an elementary branch of the economy and an exciting activity that does not just involve proverbial hard work: Farmers must have a profound knowledge of plants and animals and understand ecological relationships.

Would you like to know how farmers grow plants and keep animals? This section gives you an insight into the basics of agricultural production. Have fun trying out the hands-on displays!

What is an agricultural landscape? Expand Box

Styria is characterised by a patchwork of fields, meadows and vineyards: Mountains, hills, forests and lakes prevent cropping of extensive areas. The soil, climate and natural vegetation determine how farmers cultivate a particular area, what animals they keep, and what yield they get. The dairy industry, for example, needs spacious grazing areas; to grow wine you need a different soil and a different climate than to grow field crops.

With their work farmers shape the landscape into an agricultural landscape that defines the appearance of cultural landscapes. Many farmers have also set themselves the task of maintaining the ecological balance and farming their fields in such a way that they will be able to supply food to future generations too.

Who does the work? Expand Box

Mediaeval feudalism bound farmers to a lord as serfs. They had to pay him duties in the form of natural produce and labour. Farmers did not gain title to their land until the Year of Revolution in 1848. Now, farmers sometimes had a considerable number of farm-hands working for them – a new hierarchy was born. Every man and every woman on the farm had specific, separate tasks. When the need arises, everyone pulls together.

The increasing use of machinery led to a new turning-point in the mid-twentieth century. Less and less work was done by hand, and the number of servants dropped. In times when there is lots of work to do, e.g. at harvest time, today farmers hire seasonal workers.


Who defines the image of farmers? Expand Box

Art and literature present the image of farmers in public and also reflect their social standing through the ages. Mediaeval pictures and writings describe farmers as simple, crude people. This image began to change towards the late nineteenth century: now they were seen to be in touch with nature, hard-working, pious. Painters and writers endeavoured to portray their lives and work in a realistic manner.

Then, in the first half of the twentieth century, the farmer became the food provider for the nation. Today it is the modern media that give us images of farmers. These images range from modern ecologists to down-to-earth managers. They are still many and diverse, and contradictory, and they are somewhere between clichés and reality.

Farmyards: functional architecture in the landscape Expand Box

The farmyard is a self-enclosed production site. Every part of the house and surrounding buildings has a function that is harmonised with the other rooms. The aim is to avoid unnecessary walking and to keep processes simple and smooth. Farmyards shape the face of rural areas. The type of farms, their architectural peculiarities and materials differ from region to region, honed to the particular landscape.

The appearance of farms changed with the advent of machinery. They were converted or rebuilt. Machine rooms and silos took over. In addition, some contemporary agricultural buildings set important trends in modern architecture.


What do farms produce? Expand Box


For a long time, farms produced everything that the farmer's family and their servants needed for their everyday life: food, clothes and tools. What they harvested from the land and livestock was processed on the farm and determined what they ate. Because of this – and because of the different hearths – farmers' food differed between the south east and the north west of Styria.


This situation has changed as a result of globalisation in the twentieth century. Today farms are highly specialised and produce on the basis of strict regulations and checks. The majority of their raw materials is processed in specialised companies.


Archduke Johann: models of progress Expand Box

For centuries, farming methods and tools barely changed. Technical progress in the nineteenth century brought about the first fundamental upheaval. A fervent patron of Styrian agriculture played a key role: Archduke Johann. In order to make the farmer's work easier and to increase yield, he strove to introduce new tools and methods. He founded the Styrian “Imperial and Royal Agricultural Society”, founded model agricultural enterprises, and built models of modern farming equipment. The aim was to disseminate the new ideas.


Agricultural machines continue to grow in size and power – with the effect that many of them compact the soil over time. This is why more and more farmers are trying to find a balance between productivity and ecology, between technical progress and harmony with nature.

Can you guess what this is? Expand Box

Today, a single machine often performs a whole array of farming tasks: The combine harvester cuts the corn and threshes the grain out of the crop. Machines have caused many tools to disappear from farming. Some are still familiar from stories, while others have vanished completely.

Do you remember the first milking machines? Do you know what a “Reisenkolben” was for? Or have you ever seen a table-top dough trough? Have a look!

What is forestry? Expand Box

Where today farmers till their fields and graze their cattle, once there were forests that were cleared to make way for farmland. Today the majority of Styrian forests are privately owned, managed according to the criteria of sustainability.

Foresters have extensive knowledge of silviculture and the ecological importance of the forest. During their training they learn a lot about the multifunctional benefit of forests, ecology, and woodland management. The majority of Styrian forests are managed sustainably. Foresters use and manage forests in such a way that they can obtain timber while at the same time preserving the forest for the future as an economic factor, natural asset and habitat.


What is made from wood? Expand Box

Stairs, violins, floors, insulation boards, paper, wood-based injection moulding material, and woodchips: Wood is one of our most important raw materials. In the nineteenth century, farm buildings and their furnishings were made almost exclusively from timber, as were many tools, for example the flail, rake or plough. Wood-cutters usually felled the timber in the farmer's forests in winter.

Today we take advantage of the host of properties, structures and colours of this unique material – in a sheer endless range of materials and products. And we use it as an eco-friendly source of energy to heat houses and in industry.

More than a collection of trees ... Expand Box

More than 61% of Styria is covered in forest, it has the largest percentage of woodland among the Austrian states. Its byname – the “Green Marches” – reflects the great importance of forests for the region. Forests supply timber and are thus an economic factor. Forests are home to more species of animals and plants than all other land habitats put together. The forest fulfils four basic functions:

  • Utility: particularly the sustainable production of the raw material timber,
  • Protection: particularly protection from the elements, e.g. avalanches and mudflows
  • Wellbeing: it produces vital oxygen,
  • Recreation: it is a place of leisuretime activities and relaxation.

These four functions are often in competition with each other. One of the most important tasks of foresters is to maintain a balance between the various forest interests.

Also visit

Hunting Museum Schloss Stainz

The museum of hunting 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.


This might interest you as well

Panoramic view of Stübing,

Austrian Open-Air Museum Stuebing

As the largest and only national open-air museum in Austria, it displays the formative historical architectural styles of the various federal provinces. 


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