About us – history
History of the Diocesan Museum Graz
The Diocesan Museum Graz was founded in 1932, due to an initiative of prince-bishop Dr. Ferdinand Pawlikowsky and Dr. Johannes Mandl, the first custos.
Therefore, three super-imposed chapels at the Grazer Dome were installed as a museum.
Despite its closeness to the Dome, the museum was always a diocesan museum and not a dome museum. The reason for this is the fact that the former parish church, later court church and finally Jesuit church, was elevated to a cathedral church not until 1786 and a “dome treasure” didn’t exist in Graz.
A lot of effort was made “to save the last remains of medieval possessions of art”, which were under threat of being lost due to a bad state of preservation or the danger of selling as a result of the bad financial situation.
The second big task of the museum was the education of the adolescent clergy. On Sunday mornings, the museum was open for visitors.
Periods of Crisis
Since 1938, the museum was most extensively closed because of National Socialist reprisals. With the air raid defences law in 1942, it almost came to a dissolution. The most valuable works of art were secured in the presbytery of Pischelsdorf, some works were sent back to their home parishes and others fell into the hands of the universal museum Joanneum.
The museum opened its doors under changed conditions not until 1948, when the war damages to the building were repaired. The Barbara Chapel was used as service room again and works of art stayed in the parishes. The amount of exhibits was reduced in the following years, because of their use for the Dome and the Barbara Chapel. Due to the fact that the opening times were not regular, the Diocesan Museum fell “asleep”.
In 1964, Dr. Wilhelm Pannold became the director of the museum. His most important task was the conservatorial custody of the works of art, which were partly taken over in a dubious condition. The alarming state of the artworks didn’t allow a presentation under the title “Diocesan Museum” anymore.
Restart in 1981
With the reform of the liturgy, which banned many features from the churches, the Diocesan Museum got – as in other dioceses as well – a new meaning. New exhibition rooms and especially depot rooms became absolutely essential. When the diocesan trust administration took over the new Franciscan Monastery, which couldn’t be used completely by the friars, the Diocesan Museum received a part of the building complex. The rebuilding of the old monastery rooms was planned by the architect Msc. Richard Gratl from Innsbruck and carried out with the generous support of General Vicar Prelate Mag. Leopold Städtler.
Because of the removal of dividing walls, a big exhibition hall emerged out of smaller units. The former refectory as well as the oratorio behind the high altar of the Church Mariahilf were integrated as display rooms, which made an exhibition space of six hundred square metres available.
The rooms were equipped with those technical features, which are essential for the conservatorial custody of a collection. A lot of attention was paid to the climatic and security equipment.
General Restoration 2002
Twenty years after the reopening of the museum and thousands of visitors later, a general restoration of the Diocesan Museum became necessary in 2002. All works of art as well as the entire stock had to be removed from storage. During six months of construction work, climatic, electric and security equipment was redeveloped and a part of the furnishings was exchanged.
On September 20, 2002 the museum could be reopened with a newly installed exhibition called “Church-Art-Treasures”. A new section named “Art View” was installed as well, in which selected works were presented in detail. Furthermore, rooms for special exhibitions were reorganised for regularly changing exhibitions.
Due to the expiration of the tenancy agreement in the Franciscan Monastery, the Diocesan Museum had to look for a new location in 2008. Suitable rooms could be found on the ground floor of the seminary/theological college in Graz. After previous investigations and feasibility studies, the relocation was decided in October 2008. In January 2009, restoration and adaptation work started at the new location. At the same time, the last exhibition “Between art, boxes and wrapping paper” took place. Until July 2009, visitors could witness the boxing of over 5.500 objects very closely and could even help with the wrapping. On September 30, 2009 the relocation to the construction site was completed and the adjustment of the rooms started. A bigger entrance area, a museum shop and a café as well as an own room for pedagogical programmes were installed. Besides the exhibition space, a storage place, an archive and a workshop are available at the new location.
New Diocesan Museum at the new location 2010
On March 23, 2010 the new Diocesan Museum Graz was officially opened by bishop Dr. Egon Kapellari. The opening exhibition, which should indicate the mission of the museum, was called “Images of Christ in Styria”.
The Diocesan Museum Graz sees itself as a place of creative dialogue, which invites people to deal with the history, development and present of the Catholic Church and the Christian faith.