We weren’t planning to go into museums yesterday, just thought we’d wander around Vienna and go gorblimey, will you look at that. And there was a fair amount of that. But then we found ourselves up near the Rathaus and saw that there was a museum of armour And a museum of musical instruments. It was like a museum specifically for us.
When you live in a country that has been ruled by a succession of dynasties over hundreds of years but now you’re going through a period of Western democracy, you tend to have a lot of leftover palaces. This museum was in the Imperial palace, and just the building would have been worth the entrance price.
When we got into the bit with the armour, the Horror was in paradise. We’d hired the English language audio guides and they were very helpful in pointing out the interesting bits because, dear reader, there was a lot of armour. Horse armour, jousting armour, some other horse battle armour whose name started with R, foot fighting armour, ceremonial armour, mix and match sets of armour, squire armour, armour you wore to weddings, armour you had made after you’d spent years eating too much schnitzel.
Hall after hall after hall of it. Sometimes with a five hundred year old painting above it of a prince wearing that exact same armour that was right in front of you. Eventually the Muffet got over it a bit, but that was OK, because then there was musical instruments! I think the best way to describe it is what the Horror said, it looks like in each room they’re evolving. Very early brass, woodwind and stringed instruments, then through all the various permutations people put them through until they became today’s versions. I wish some of them were still around.
On the right it’s a spinet, on the left it’s a tiny organ, with the bellows at the back and the wind coming out of the bottom end of the keys, towards the player. On top is painted a backgammon board and if you turned it over (it was mounted over a mirror) it had a chessboard painted on the bottom. Awesome.
AND there was a harmony piano, man, I didn’t take a photo. It was enormously complicated with five rows of keys with various circle patterns on them. The idea was to have a perfectly tuned keyboard upon which F sharp was slightly different to G flat. It went out of vogue very quickly because it was too damned hard to play. But that actual one on display had been played by Haydn and Beethoven. That actual one.
You know what? It’s put me off any museum I’ll ever see in Australia.