Schloss Trautenfels Exhibition tour

Exhibition tour

Arranged in a kaleidoscope-like pattern, the 13 rooms of the Landscape Museum of Trautenfels Castle narrate the natural and cultural history of the district of Liezen, which is the largest administrative district in Austria, covering a total area of 3,315 km2.


Exhibition view

Come with us!

Every themed room has its own focus, evolving around the region and the museum collection, bringing together objects from culture, humans and nature. The views of the surrounding natural landscape allow for a connection to and the location of the displayed content both on the inside and the outside. Click through the individual exhibition rooms!

Stories of the themed rooms:

About our Museum Expand Box

The first room, the so called attunement room, introduces visitors to the world of the museum. Here, objects and artefacts from nature, culture, art and the everyday lives of people are perceived as something special as they narrate stories and history removed from their original context.

Two selected objects – a chunk of Alpine limestone from the Dachstein, which we would deem ordinary outside on the mountain, but here it tells the story of 220 million years of geological development. The painting by Herbert Brandl depicts the Grimming, the monolithic and prominent mountain that shapes the Enns Valley.

In the course of time
mountains become lower
and rocks rounder
rivers cut deeper
things begin to fill the museum with life
all that seemed insignificant becomes fascinating
the long forgotten resurfaces
the banal turns into something special
we begin to comprehend the past
see some things out there in a new light
in the course of time

Herbert Brandl, born in 1959 in Graz, lives and works in Vienna.
The painting was created by Herbert Brandl for the Special Exhibition “Der grimmige Berg. Mons Styriae latissimus” in 2011 and transferred to Universalmuseum Joanneum as a gift. 
Photo: Ernst Reichenfelser

Herbert Brandl, born in 1959 in Graz, lives and works in Vienna.
Grimming, 2011, oil on canvas, Neue Galerie Graz, UMJ.
The painting was created by Herbert Brandl for the Special Exhibition “Der grimmige Berg. Mons Styriae latissimus” in 2011 and transferred to Universalmuseum Joanneum as a gift.
Photo: Ernst Reichenfelser

Forest and Timber Expand Box

More than half of the area of the Liezen district is covered by forest. According to the Austrian Forest Inventory of 2007/2009, 70 % – corresponding to 232,000 ha – of the total area is covered by forest, with around 89,000 ha of protective forest. The forest as an ecosystem and timber as an important natural resource for humans have shaped the Liezen district for many centuries and they continue to do so today.

The multimedia presentation “Plants conquering the mainland. Earth history in a time lapse.” shows how plants populated our planet in the course of Earth history, and how they provided a habitat for the animals that followed. Around 420 million years ago, plants conquered the land surface. Around 50 million years later, the first forests came into existence. Approximately 20,000 years ago, during the peak of the latest great Limestone Age in the Alpine area, for the time being, Styria was mostly treeless. The “Styrian primeval forest” emerged only later.

In more recent centuries, humans have been shaping the appearance of the forest and our landscape. The intense exploitation of this natural resource through mining and smelting since the Bronze Age, particularly in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age, have led to severe alterations of the natural tree population and an over-utilisation of the forests. Emperor Maximilian I. (reigned 1493–1519) laid the foundations for the first far-reaching forestry measures.

The contraposition of natural and commercial forest presents typical preserved specimens of flora and fauna – some in the form of small biotopes – showing the symbioses in this extraordinary community we call forest. The tools used by lumberjacks, photos and a video showing the timber transport process illustrate how humans used the forest before industrialisation.

Early, simple but technically elaborate wooden tools, presented against the background of a farm workshop, locally known as “Machlkammer”, highlight the importance of timber in the rural working and living environment of a farm. In this Alpine rural region, we can certainly speak of a “Wood Age”. Even the farms and their outbuildings were timber built, while wood was used to make the household appliances and furniture together with all the varied equipment farmers used to carry out their daily work in each of the seasons.

Between Valleys and Hills Expand Box

A relief model of the Liezen district on a scale of 1 : 18,000 in the centre of the room gives visitors a feel for the physiographic structure and the dimensions of the largest administrative district in Austria with an area of 3,315 km². From the banks of the River Enns to the highest peaks of the Tauern and Northern Limestone Alps we find a great diversity of biotopes depending on the altitude. The area surrounding the relief model presents these diverse habitats with prepared plant and animal specimens and short films – following the altitude levels from the riparian forest to the high mountains: flowing waters and riparian forest; standing waters, lakes, lakesides; fens and upland bogs; slope forests; tree line; grassland and dwarf-shrub heaths above the tree line; rock and scree fields of the summit region.

Computer animations on a monitor screen illustrate the formation of the landscape. They show the formation of the Enns Valley since the latest glaciation (“The Enns Valley gets its finishing touch – for now”) and demonstrate the structure and dimensions of the Grimming, the impressive local limestone mountain by means of a 3-D overflight (“From space to the Grimming”).

Underneath the relief model, a showcase clad with perforated metal sheets represents the countless hay barns of the Enns Valley, which were used until the middle of the 20th century to store the hay harvested in the area. The transport was carried out in winter when the ground was frozen. Those of the simple buildings that still exist today are used in different ways. In this abstracted “hay barn museum”, agricultural implements from the time before industrialisation provide valuable testimony to the work that helped shape the transformation of the landscape and its cultivation. The clearing of forests for pasture and arable land and the regulation of the River Enns to make the valley floor suitable for agricultural use and to create safe traffic routes led to a lasting change in the appearance of the valley.

Visitors who take a look out the window towards the south will see a former bend in the River Enns (an abandoned river course) in Neuhaus, where the regulation of the River Enns began in 1860 with the so-called Neuhaus breakthrough. The construction of the railway through the Enns Valley a few years later was only made possible in this shape and form because of the river regulation.

Objects of Beauty Expand Box

“Everything is beautiful when looked at with love.” (Christian Morgenstern)

Many things in nature or our immediate surroundings are perceived as beautiful. This perception fosters our desire to own these beautiful things or to design our personal objects accordingly. Beyond their functionality in everyday life, objects should also comply with aesthetic aspirations and evoke special appreciation.

The displayed items are objects of folk art, craftsmanship and also from nature, which represent aesthetic aspects from different perspectives. Objects of daily use, working tools or so-called “tokens of love” made of the most diverse materials are exhibited in an oversized showcase, showing the great variety of objects of folk art of the Trautenfels Castle collection. Certain rules of external form, but also laws of content characterise the appearance these objects. Another characteristic is the aspiration for order and clarity. Symmetry, geometric patterns, stylisation and the sparing use of colours are essential features. Religious signs and symbols, humans, animals and plants in depictions of everyday life are frequently used motifs.

The two west-facing windows in this room provide a spectacular view of the majestic Grimming mountain. Depending on the weather, a magnificent natural spectacle can be seen from here. To make sure you can “see” this landscape-shaping mountain even when it rains, the exhibition includes photo impressions of the Grimming in different conditions from the east side and the north side.

True Faith Expand Box

Reformation and Counter-Reformation and the Protestant church in Neuhaus (1574–1599) are the core topics of this room. The installation at the centre shows a model of the church and also several unimposing remnants of the building, excavated in 1992.

On 31 October 1517, the monk Martin Luther attached 95 theses against the practice of selling indulgences to the portal of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Within a few weeks, the news of these reformatory ideas had made their way to Upper Styria. The Hoffmann family, the barons of Grünpühel and Strechau, were also the owners of Neuhaus Castle (today Trautenfels Castle) in the 16th century. As influential promoters of the new faith, they generously supported the construction of the first Lutheran church in Neuhaus im Ennstal. This church, built in 1574 near the castle, was very popular amongst the faithful and frequently visited by them.

In November 1599, however, a Reformation Commission, accompanied by 800 mercenaries, travelled through Upper Styria. They forced people to take an oath to the Catholic Church, had the Lutheran books burned and the Protestant prayer houses of Au, Neuhaus and Rottenmann completely destroyed. Many of the Lutherans escaped the counter-reformatory oppression by fleeing to the Protestant areas of Germany. Others tried to remain true to their faith in secret.

In the period leading up to the Edict of Toleration of 1781, many Protestants left the region or converted in appearance only and kept practicing their faith in secret. Expressing this divide, the atmosphere of the room seeks to recreate the two conflicting poles of Reformation and Counter-Reformation.

Social Life Expand Box

The imaginary inn illustrates the importance of inns and taverns for the social and economic life of a village. The regulars' table is in the centre and visitors can hear conversations of the regulars and music that was played by pressing buttons on the table. They can listen in to the conversations, the voices and sounds that can only be heard at an inn.

The furnishings from various inns in the Liezen district exhibited on the round walls of the imaginary inn, such as the ice chest, recreate an atmosphere of the late 19th and early 20th century. Objects in peep-boxes refer to topics of interest discussed at the time that were part of the inn or the basis for conversations, such as poaching or bird-catching. Historical photographs tell of current affairs and the everyday life of the village community. A monitor screen on National Socialism presents a critical examination of contemporary historical issues of the region. 

The inns have always played crucial role in the district of Liezen, which is characterised by a varied economic life and ever since the 19th century, by increasing tourism. The busy goods traffic of salt, iron and provisions trades was of great economic importance for the inns. Together with the Church, they formed the centre of a social network that extended far beyond the boundaries of a village.

Agriculture, forestry, mining and metal smelting relied on a thoroughly functional transport system and commercial travellers assured the livelihoods and prosperity of the inns. In addition to the serving of food and drink, the possibility to meet and communicate with others at an inn played a vital role for the village community. Business was negotiated and information was exchanged about family matters, events in the neighbourhood, political developments or current affairs. In addition, the innkeepers played an important social role in the village structure. In many cases, they also ran farms, breweries, butcheries or other businesses.

The traditional skittle table, locally known as “Drauhn’l-Tisch”, invites our visitors to engage in an active game.
The traditional skittle table cannot be played on due to the measures taken with regard to Cocid-19.

Enns Valley, 19th century. The regulars’ table at the centre of the room highlights the importance of meeting others for the social life of a village.
Photo: Ernst Reichenfelser

Exhibition view “Regulars’ table, orchestrion and glass cupboards”
Enns Valley, 19th century. The regulars’ table at the centre of the room highlights the importance of meeting others for the social life of a village.
Photo: Ernst Reichenfelser

Clothing Expand Box

Following the intention of the collection to present natural and cultural history in a holistic approach, the exhibition includes not only items of clothing but also objects of great scientific value.

Under the aspects of “Protection and signal”, the exhibition shows clothes that were worn by women, men or children of the region. This also leads us to the name for traditional clothing – called “Tracht” in German – which means “wearing” (“Tragen”) or “what was worn”. Clothing was determined by social and economic conditions. Until the 19th century, regional differences developed.

With the beginning of summer retreats in the 19th century, many aristocrats travelled to the countryside as part of the entourage of the imperial family, with a preference for the Salzkammergut region. Later, many bourgeois families would follow. They took inspiration from the clothing of the locals and began to dress like them – from a romantic perspective. In the 20th century, a revival of traditional costume took place in the course of the costume renewal, which led to idealisation and instrumentalisation under National Socialism. Even though tastes changed in the course of time, the costume renewal determined and defined which costumes were valid for what specific region.

In the 21st century, traditional clothing is again experiencing a renaissance and is finally receiving academic attention: traditional costume is not only increasingly worn, but it is also critically questioned and reappraised with regard to political idealisation and instrumentalisation – especially during the National Socialist era.

Working Life and Customs Expand Box

This room is dedicated to everyday farming life, working life and the customs of our Alpine region before industrialisation. The changing seasons determined the lives of people, animals and plants. Rural farming life was harmoniously integrated into the natural changes of the seasons.

Following the seasonal pattern of summer and winter, the room is divided into a brighter and a darker side. The two figures on the bright side represent manual farm work, exemplified by essential activities from sowing to harvesting – chores that filled the entire summer, with up to 17 working hours a day.

The figures on the dark side, the side of winter, are selected examples of the numerous customs celebrated in the district of Liezen. Short videos show them in real-life events. In an agriculturally oriented society, the seasons and also the solstices and equinoxes are dates of special importance that divide the year. These dates determine the times for sowing, harvesting and resting, and since they mark a time of transition, they are also celebrated with specific customs.

The work processes of farming are directly linked to the growth and decay of nature. Even though agriculture has been modernised in many respects, its close connection with the cycle of the seasons and nature is still an essential constant in the life and work of farmers.

Treasures from the Mountains Expand Box

This themed room presents historical mining up to industrialisation, showcase pairs with starting and end products, and an insight into salt production.

As early as 4000 BC (the Bronze Age), a supra-regional mining centre developed in the area of the Palten-Liesing Valley, where locally mined copper was smelted into bronze with imported tin. From the Middle Ages until the Early Modern Age, the upper Enns Valley with its side valleys was a mining centre of international importance. The Schladming Mining Charter, which established the rights and duties of miners, was a model for many mining regulations throughout Europe. The mining of silver, which was a much sought-after coin metal, provided a major boost for the economic rise of the mining town of Schladming.

The mines were located in the high mountains, for example in the Zinkwand (“zinc face”) at altitudes between 1,800 and 2,200 metres. Especially during the winter months, the extraction of metal ores and their transport in sacks that were bound together in trains and pushed down to the smelting plants were very strenuous and laborious activities. Thanks to the newly found method of nickel extraction, it was possible to continue mining until the 19th century after its slow decline in Schladming.

Salt extraction in the Ausseerland region is still an important branch of industry today. In 1147, the industrial extraction of salt began in Bad Aussee. It was carried out by washing out the saline Haselgebirge (a rocky mixture of clays, sands and salt) with water. The brine that was thus created in the mountain was fed through wooden pipes into the salt works, where the salt was extracted by evaporation. Filled into wooden moulds and dried, conical salt domes (“Salzfüderl”) were formed, which were then delivered to the surrounding regions.

Salt mining

Approximately 245 million years ago, in the area of today's Ausseerland region, thick layers of clay and salt were deposited in several cycles, triggered by the evaporation of a shallow seawater basin. During the formation of the mountain range, this area called Haselgebirge (a mixture of clays, sands and salt), was folded, shifted and mixed into different layers of rock. The economically most important deposit is enclosed in Mt. Sandling and is considered the most important salt deposit in Austria.

Salt extraction in the Ausseerland region is still an important branch of industry today. The year 1147 is regarded as the beginning of salt production, and it has continued down to the present day.


Housing Expand Box

This themed room focuses on the need both people and animals have for shelter and protection. Humans seek and have been seeking to protect themselves against indomitable dangers and forces of nature such as fire, floods and avalanches, and also illness and death with the help of supernatural forces, such as figures or images of saints, consecrated palm bushes, symbols for protection and blessing, or the eggs laid on Holy Thursday during Easter. A marmot burrow, the nest of a penduline tit and, as a special attraction, a living show beehive all represent the contextualisation of dwellings of animals in nature.

Humans build houses for themselves and stables for their farm animals for shelter during the cold season and in unfavourable weather conditions. Most of the farmhouses and outbuildings in the region were built using logs and cut timber, and some of them were also partly boarded up. Stone construction and masonry were limited to the cellars and fireplaces.

At the corners and the connections of the wooden partition walls, visitors can see the ornamental log wall connections: these beams are very artistic connecting elements, which sometimes include symbols. Visitors can also examine the different building forms that characterise the farms of the upper, middle and lower Enns Valley and the Ausseerland region. They represent the characteristic house landscapes of the individual regions.

Life on the Alpine Pastures Expand Box

The rural economy in the district of Liezen is characterised by livestock farming. The management of alpine pastures (“Alm”) and the use of high pastures during the summer months was and still is of great importance for the region. In 2019, the district of Liezen had 508 alpine pastures, recorded in the alpine pasture register of the agricultural district authority for Styria. About 485 of them are actively managed farm holdings.

This themed room shows the great and far-reaching importance and the versatile areas of work of Alpine farming, which, for a very long time, was almost exclusively carried out by women, called alpine dairymaids. The room shows how cows were decorated to celebrate their return from the mountain pastures during the “Almabtrieb” procession, how mountain pasture hay was produced, or how agriculture changed the mountain ecology.

Dairy farming was the core area of alpine pasture management. Since only small volumes of milk could be delivered to the valley until the middle of the 20th century, it had to be processed directly on the alpine pasture farms into storable products such as butter, clarified butter, cheese and crumbly curd cheese. The objects and photos in this room illustrate how butter and “Steierkas”, a typical crumbly Styrian cheese, were produced before industrialisation. Visitors can also get a sniff of this particular cheese in the “Steierkas showcase”.

As a special feature of this subject area and also of the collection of Trautenfels Castle, the exhibition displays working tools such as butter moulds and cream spatulas, which are artfully chip-carved and considered both working tools and objects of folk art. The motives on the five-part folding moulds – a special form of butter moulds in the region – tell stories of the lives and everyday world of the people. They are decorated with religious images, hunters, dairymaids, animals as symbols and also geometric motifs or coats of arms. Pressing the butter into the five-part mould created the so-called “Butterstöckel” butter turrets. Their beautiful relief-like decorations probably also highlighted the high value of butter as a comestible good.

Hunting Room of the Lord of the Castle Expand Box

This large-scale open showcase displays essential pieces of the antler furniture collection of Count Lamberg, who bought Trautenfels Castle in 1878. These are the only furniture and furnishing items owned by the Lamberg family (1878–1941) that have survived in the castle.

The former appearance of the hunting room in Trautenfels Castle was documented in historical photographs. Antler furniture had been popular in Europe since the early 19th century. However, some chandeliers or other special furnishings made of antler parts were produced much earlier than that. In the 19th century, antler furniture was very much en vogue. Many hunting lodges or hunting rooms of the time were equipped with seating furniture made from antlers.

The antler room at Trautenfels Castle impresses with its artistically unique furnishings, which are characterised by sophisticated inlay and mosaic work. Even everyday objects such as candlesticks, crockery or a wick trimmer are fully covered with fine antler plates.

The origin or the manufacturer of this exceptionally fine artisan work is no longer known. It has been suggested that it might have been manufactured to specification at a workshop in the region.

Needlework Expand Box

The Landscape Museum at Trautenfels Castle preserves an assorted collection of textiles, with a focus on embroidery in cross-stitch technique. Selected historical objects are displayed in the Needlework Room on the mezzanine floor.

The “Needlework Circle of Trautenfels Castle”

The Needlework Circle of Trautenfels Castle was founded by SR Maria Erlbacher in 1981. Thanks to the commitment of Maria Erlbacher, the Trautenfels Castle Association was able to publish several needlework books in German, such as “Kreuzstichmuster” (“Cross stitch patterns”) and “Überlieferte Strickmuster aus dem steirischen Ennstal” (“Traditional knitting patterns from the Styrian Enns Valley”). In some cases, templates based on historical patterns of objects from the museum were drawn, reworked and published.

The current heads of the “Needlework Circle of Trautenfels Castle”, which is now a separate working group within the Trautenfels Castle Association, are Christine Schachner and Helga Schmidl. The active group members meet regularly to carry out needlework in various different techniques (model knitting, cross stitch – single and double sided, plaited braid stitch, basket stitch, Assisi embroidery, macramé knotting). The large showcase in the so called “Needlework Room” is equipped by the members of the circle each year with needlework that fits the topic of the Special Exhibition, thus creating a dialogue with the historic embroidery of the museum collection.

Schloss Trautenfels

Trautenfels 1
8951 Stainach-Pürgg, Österreich
T +43-3682/222 33


Opening Hours

1 April to 31 October 2023:
Daily 10am - 5pm