Housed in two buildings connected by a modern ticket office, the Imperial Furniture Collection forms part of the Kunsthistorischen museums based at the Hofburg Palace. Both museum buildings are notable in their own right; the furniture repository at Mariahilferstrasse 88 was commissioned in 1901 by Emperor Franz Joseph II to store the overspill from the Imperial Family’s vast stockpile of priceless antique furniture. The other half of the museum is found in a simple, Bidermeier-style townhouse dating from the early 19th century.
Able to draw on over 165,000 pieces – the largest collection of furniture in the world – the museum stages changing exhibitions of Empire and Bidermeier furniture interspersed with oddly intimate artifacts such as wheelchairs, displayed in elegant panelled rooms. Among the masterpieces of three centuries of rabid accumulation is the fabulous Egyptian Cabinet, designed for Empress Maria Ludovica in 1812 and complete with ornate carved figures; and several sets taken from 1950s movies featuring the much-loved Empress Elisabeth (nicknamed Sisi), who was assassinated in Geneva in 1898.