The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is Austria's Museum of the History of Art.


Most of its collections belonged to the Habsburgs.


Originally, the artwork that is now in the museum was housed in the Hofburg, Austria's former imperial palace, and in the Belvedere, Prince Eugene of Savoy's former summer residence.


In the last half of the 19th century, Emperor Franz Joseph inaugurated an ambitious plan for reconstructing Vienna. During that time, the city's defenses were torn down, and a wide circular boulevard, the Ringstrasse, was built around the center of the city.


Buildings housing two new museums - the Imperial Museum of Natural History and the Kunsthistorisches Museum - were built along the Ringstrasse.


Michael Munkácsy, a Hungarian artist, painted the ceiling fresco over the Kunsthistorisches Museum's main staircase. The fresco, which was completed in 1890, depicts Pope Julius II presiding over Michelangelo, Leonard, Raphael, Titian and Veronese.


The museum contains displays of ancient Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek and Roman artwork. There are painting by Old Masters of the 15th through 18th centuries, including Brueghel the Elder, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio and Raphael


The world's largest collection of coins and medals is located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. This collection includes coins from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. There are Celtic, Byzantine, medieval and Renaissances coins.


A collection of Renaissance and Baroque sculpture and decorative arts includes Benvenuto Cellini's golden Saliera (salt cellar), which depicts the god Neptune and the goddess of the Earth.


In 2003, Robert Mang, a specialist in security alarms stole the Saliera from the museum. In 2006, police identified Mang as the thief, and he turned himself in.


The museum's library contains about 36,000 books of great historical importance.


Some collections belonging to the Kunsthistorisches Museum are located in the Neue Burg, part of Vienna's Hofburg Complex. Among these are a collection of weapons and a collections of musical instruments. The Ephesos Museum, which contains archeological discoveries from Ephesus, Turkey and Samothrace, Greece, is part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and is also housed in the Neue Burg.


The Ecclesiastical and Secular Treasuries, also sections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, are located in the Hofburg.