The Joanneum Universal Museum is Austria’s oldest publicly accessible museum and the largest universal museum in central Europe. When Archduke Johann Baptist of Austria (1782 – 1859) commissioned its foundation, his intention was to promote Styria through the Joanneum. He wanted to "...facilitate learning and excite intellectual curiosity that will increasingly help to fill out this mere memorizing that is so disadvantageous for thinking for oneself and so for independence, and to bridge this harmful chasm between concept and intuition, theory and practice.”
At the same time he asked the inhabitants of the former Inner Austria (Styria, Carinthia, Krain, Görz, Austrian Littoral) to compile a history of their country. Subsequently, numerous generous donations expanded both the museum collection and the book holdings of the Styrian State Library.
The area of the new Joanneum Quarter - especially the complex of buildings in “Raubergasse-Kalchberggasse-Neutorgasse” - has also played a significant role in the development of town planning in Graz.
The entire complex has a trapezoidal ground plan caused by its original position against the medieval city wall. Located at the center of city life, the history of the museum building at Raubergasse 10 can be traced back to the 15th century. Numerous building alterations and additions as well as several changes of ownership shaped the cityscape around this area.
The northern complex of four wings, with its early Baroque facade, court arcades and private chapel was commissioned by Abbot Franz von Kaltenhausen, and functioned from 1665 to 1674 as a town house for the Benedictine monastery St. Lambrecht. Domenico Sciassia (1599/1603-1679) from Roveredo, Graubünden was the architect. The building did not remain in the possession of the Benedictines for long, and because of debts they had to sell the complex to Jakob Graf von Leslie. The former foundation building was taken over by the Leslie family and renamed “Lesliehof”, and when the House of Leslie ceased to exist in 1802 it was bequeathed to Prince Johann Karl von Dietrichstein. In 1811, it was purchased by the Estates of Styria to serve as the Inner Austrian “Nationalmusäum” Joanneum.
The building Kalchberggasse 2 with its historic neo-baroque facade and roof balustrade, was erected in place of the narrow south wing that connected the garden wing of 1665/74 and the annex looking onto the road of 1825/26, following a sketch by August Gunolt made between 1890 and 1893. The Styrian State Library moved from the Joanneum to the building Kalchberggasse in 1893 and is the oldest State Library in Austria, and the second largest library in Styria. The library building in Kalchberggasse has remained basically unchanged for more than 100 years. The Kalchberggasse facade with its five axes was designed as a counterpart to the new museum building in Neutorgasse that was erected at the same time. The historic monumental structure of the neo-baroque museum building Neutorgasse 45 is located between Neutorgasse and Museumspark, Landhausgasse and Kalchberggasse. The circular domed entrance building can be reached via an arc shaped courtyard. The building’s structure is characterized by this central dome, the formal connecting staircase and the curved frontal wings that join the central space on both sides.
The building was erected between 1890 and 1894 as the “Museum of Cultural History and Applied Arts”. There have been plans to erect a new museum building on the site of the Joanneum garden between the museum building Raubergasse 10 and Neutorgasse since 1863. Finally August Gunolt (1849-1932) – a student of Heinrich Ferstel and a professor at the Imperial and Royal Technical College in Graz - was commissioned to design the new building.
Gunolt’s design was inspired by baroque buildings in the style of J. B. Fischer von Erlach. This is first of all evident in the impressive facade in exedra form and in the cupola of the museum building. Despite alterations and additions, the building remains as the only museum built during the 19th century in Graz.
From 26.11.2011 you will find the newly designed Joanneum Quarter at this site.
ARGE Museumsviertel/Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos – eep architekt
Courtyard Raubergasse, photo: Nicolas Lackner, UMJ
Entrance Raubergasse, photo: Nicolas Lackner, UMJ
Memorial plaque, photo: Nicolas Lackner, UMJ
Buliding Neutorgasse, photo: Nicolas Lackner, UMJ
Styrian State Library, photo: Nicolas Lackner, UMJ
Coutyard Joanneum Quarter, photo: UMJ / N. Lackner