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.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
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