The origins of Klosterneuburg Abbey situated about 10 km outside of Vienna, reach back to St. Leopold (Leopold III, Margrave of Austria, a Babenberger and the patron saint of Austria). He and his wife Agnes founded Klosterneuburg Abbey in 1114. It became a house of Augustinian Canons in 1133 and still is up to this day. Klosterneuburg Abbey holds a number of important artworks in its collections, ranging from the world-famous Verdun Altar from 1181, a rich collection of gothic panel painting, of magnificent Baroque works, to modern paintings. The Abbey aims not only to protect and preserve these works, it also makes them accessible to visitors in interesting ways.
The Abbey building consists mainly of two parts: the medieval complex around the cloister which forms together with the abbey church a main monument of romanesque and gothic architecture in Austria and the Baroque complex, the so called Imperial wing ("Kaisertrakt"). According to Emperor Charles VI, the monastery and the imperial palace were to form a unity; the example was the Escorial near Madrid. The most gigantic of all Baroque monastery complexes was built over 10 years starting in the year of 1730 according to plans by Donato Felice d'Allio. Construction was terminated soon after the death of Charles VI in 1740 for financial reasons. Only a quarter of the originally planned complex was finally completed by the architect Joseph Kornhäusel between the years 1834 and 1842. The most important elements of this immense complex are the finished grandly furnished Imperial Rooms with the imposing Marble Hall and the unfinished and in the status of a construction site preserved Sala terrena.
A dwindling number of visitors over the last years, antiquated security systems, the lack of climate control systems and, last but not least, the construction of a large visitors' garage on the eastern side of the Imperial Wing all provided the impetus for Klosterneuburg Monastery to make its cultural facilities more modern and thus more competitive. In the summer of 2004, the monastery engaged bogner.cc with touristical and museological planning. Over the next few months, a master plan including a climate control concept and an estimate of costs was drawn up in close cooperation with the team from the monastery. Just twenty months after work on the concept had begun, the Sala terrena (including the Lower Imperial staircase), the exhibition space around the cloister, the eastern garden facilities and the redesigned monastery courtyard were opened to the public.
The museum project, opened on 4th May 2006 consisted of 3 main parts:
The newly created and/or newly designed exhibition space in the Baroque wing and around the medieval cloister spans around 5,200 m2: investments EUR 4.6 millions Adaptation of the old Granary as a restaurant, 2,600 m2: investment EUR 4.5 millions The Garden redesign connected with the cultural project, 15,000 m2: EUR 1.6 millions The total construction cost of EUR 10.7 millions, subsidies: EUR 2.9 millions
Subsidising bodies were the Province of Lower Austria, the Austrian federal government, the City of Klosterneuburg and the Archdiocese of Vienna.
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