The Great Museum 2014

Das grosse Museum

Directed by Johannes Holzhausen Arts and Music

This wryly observed, visually sumptuous documentary takes us behind the scenes at Vienna’s Art History Museum while staff prepare an ambitious renovation, reinstallation and rebranding of its palatial Kunstkammer galleries.

Austria In English and German with English subtitles
94 minutes DCP
Exempt

Producer

Johannes Rosenberger

Screenplay

Johannes Holzhausen
,
Constantin Wulff

Photography

Joerg Burger
,
Attila Boa

Editor

Dieter Pichler

Sound

Andreas Pils
,
Andreas Hamza

With

Sabina Haag
,
Neil MacGregor
,
Paulus Rainer
,
Paul Frey
,
Christian Beaufort-Spontin
,
Helene Hanzer
,
Monica Kurzel-Runtscheiner
,
Sylvia Ferino-Pagden

Festivals

Berlin
,
San Francisco 2014

Elsewhere

This enthralling, multi-layered portrait of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna takes us on a privileged tour behind the scenes of one of the world’s most illustrious collections of art and artefact. Sensitively and wittily directed by Johannes Holzhausen, who has an art history background, it was shot over a year while sections of the vast classical building were closed for renovation. The film observes all areas of activity – from painting restoration workshops to staff meetings and departmental conferences, where branding and budgets are discussed. It delves into cavernous storerooms and nooks packed with innumerable treasures, and watches curators devising new layouts for the display of priceless works of art. Holzhausen eschews any commentary apart from that offered by the wide range of characters we encounter or overhear – impassioned curators, collection directors, art experts, conservers, cleaning staff, labourers. The camera glides through the museum’s splendid halls and lingers in tight close on exquisite objects or minute details, immersing us in the sights and sounds, be they profound or mundane, of a great cultural institution. — Sandra Reid

“It’s hard to imagine a more visually sumptuous presentation of the balancing act between culture and bureaucracy… The director succeeds at taking an informative, humorous and intelligent look behind the scenes of a major museum, a museum that must assert itself within the international marketplace.” — Caligari Film Award Jury statement, Berlin International Film Festival