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21 years of the Admont Abbey Museum

21 years of the Admont Abbey Museum

21 years of unexpected diversity and astonished guests

The museum of Admont Abbey, founded in 1074, can look back on 21 years of success in its current form. Since its opening in 2003, it has been known for the unexpected variety it has to offer its often astonished guests. As early as 1994, the then abbots Benedikt Schlömicher (reigned 1978-1996) and Bruno Hubl (reigned 1996-2017), the convent, the then economic director Helmuth Neuner and master builder Lambert Gahbauer drew up a concept for the restoration and redesign of the entire Admont Abbey complex.

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In 1995, architect Manfred Wehdorn was commissioned to draw up a structural development plan. The expansion project included the large-scale museum project, the renovation of the outdoor facilities, the installation of a modern restaurant and the expansion of the business, pharmacy and east and south wings. The appearance of Admont Abbey has changed significantly for the better as a result.

The solid basis for the realisation of this project included the existing museum collections, the successful business operations of the foundation, but also the hope-inspiring increase in visitor numbers. And behind everything was the intention, which is still valid today, to convey the Benedictine spirit in the museum, to preserve important cultural assets and to make them accessible to a broad public. The revitalisation of the region and the creation of jobs were also clear objectives.

The realisation of the fully developed plans began in 1999. After five years of remodelling, the new museum of Admont Abbey opened in 2003. Embedded in the monastery complex, it is located in the centre of Austria in a breathtaking landscape at the entrance to the Gesäuse National Park. Under one roof you will find art from the Middle Ages to the present day, a historical natural history museum and the experience of the largest monastery library in the world. The numerous museum guests were noticeably surprised by the lively dialogue between tradition and innovation as well as the enormous variety of the museum's offerings - and still are today.

A lot has happened in the last 21 years. In 1997, under Artistic Director Michael Braunsteiner, the culture department was founded and work began on the conceptualisation of the new museum. This year also saw the foundation stone laid for the establishment of the contemporary art collection. This now comprises over 1000 works of Austrian art from the post-war generations from a wide range of genres. The MADE FOR ADMONT programme was founded and the special collection JENSEITS DES SEHENS - KUNST VERBINDET BLINDE UND SEHENDE was established.


Admont View of the exhibition Schoenheit und Anspruch www
Admont Friedrich I Maximilian III DSC B www
Exhibition VERORTUNGEN Room Lois Renner www
Gothic Museum www
Anniversary exhibition b www
Artistic Intervention Goetz Bury Gala Dinner Made for Admont www
Natural History Museum Wax Fruit Collection www
Gothic Museum Pano c Stefan Leitner
Admont Abbey - Collage Museum new building

Between 2005 and 2008, the Admont Abbey Library underwent extensive restoration work. The year of its reopening in 2008 was accompanied by special exhibitions and was the year with the most visitors in the entire history of our museum. However, the bitter setback in 2014 should not go unmentioned: the threat to the library's valuable book collection caused by a completely unexpected infestation of insect pests. All life stages of the museum pests (beetles, larvae, pupae and eggs or brood) therefore had to be completely combated at enormous expense and 70,000 books had to be cleaned. This was ultimately successful in the years that followed.

Abbot Gerhard Hafner has made a significant addition to the museum. The Vorarlberg art collector and patron of the arts Kuno Erich Mayer first enriched Admont Abbey with loans and then with the donation of medieval art treasures from the sacred part of his extensive private Gothic collection of international standing. Since 2017, the permanent exhibition in the specially adapted Gothic Museum has delighted visitors from near and far.

In 2021 and 2022, two major exhibitions on the theme of "Frederick III & Maximilian I" took place in the adjoining rooms of the new Gothic Museum in the east wing - with over 200 loans and in completely newly adapted areas according to the strictest museum criteria.

With its wide range of special exhibitions and cultural events, our museum has been attracting between 50,000 visitors a year in less favourable years and 80,000 in good years to the region since 2003. Our museum has reacted correctly to times of crisis (global financial crisis 2007-08, pandemic) and survived them well thanks to the wise decisions made by the abbey management, which has been under Abbot Gerhard Hafner, Prior P. Maximilian and, since 2019, Economic Director Franz Pichler since 2017. This museum newspaper provides information about this year's activities and exhibitions in and around the museum. Looking ahead to the 2024 museum season, the museum team is already working on preparations for the upcoming anniversary year - 950 years of Admont Abbey.

The expansion and remodelling of the entire museum complex at Admont Abbey took place between 1999 and 2003.

Architect: Manfred Wehdorn
Abbey master builder: Lambert Gahbauer
Exhibition space: 3.600 m2
Utilisation area: 7.600 m2

Second largest museum in Styria
Around 80 companies were employed
Opening of the new museum in May 2003

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