Museum of Military History, Vienna
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|Museum of Military History
The Museum of Military History (German: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) is a military history museum located in Vienna, Austria. It claims to be the oldest and largest purpose-built military history museum in the world. Its collection includes one of the world's largest collections of bronze cannons and focuses on Austrian military history from the 16th century to 1945.
The museum is located in Vienna's Arsenal, in the Landstraße district, not far from the Belvedere palace. It was built between 1850 and 1856 at the behest of Emperor Franz Joseph I as the new city garrison, after the old one was destroyed in the 1848 revolution. The architect was Theophil Hansen.
The museum, at the centre of the Arsenal, was part of the original design and was to serve as both a historical museum and a testament to the Empire's military victories and leaders. (According to the museum's official website, it is the oldest museum in Vienna.) It consists of five main elements: a main entrance hall containing the tomb-like Hall of Generals, and four large exhibition halls, in which the collections are housed. Its bronze cannon are arranged outside the museum, in the grounds of the Arsenal.
Each of the four exhibit halls is devoted to a different period of Austrian history, beginning with the Thirty Years' War and the Ottoman Turks, continuing through the Napoleonic Wars, World War I and World War II. There is also a small special exhibition hall where the theme is changed regularly. One of the most notable parts of the museum's collection is located in the First World War hall, and relates to the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand. On display are the car in which the Archduke and his wife were riding when they were assassinated, the uniform he was wearing, the pistol used by Gavrilo Princip to shoot him, and the chaise longue on which he was declared dead.
Other notable exhibits include the huge medieval bombard, Pumhart von Steyr, the original shipbuilder's model of the battleship SMS Viribus Unitis, flagship of the Austro-Hungarian naval fleet during World War I, a French observation balloon, the oldest surviving European aircraft, L'Intrépide, and the wreck of SM U-20, an Austro-Hungarian Navy submarine sunk in combat in 1918.
In front of its main entrance, the museum once displayed the MiG-21 of Croatian pilot Rudolf Perešin who deserted JNA. The plane was returned to the Croatian armed forces after the wars in Yugoslavia.
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- Museum of Military History official website
- Austro-Hungarian Navy in WWI See item 24 for information on the U.20, the submarine on display in the museum.