gay vienna sisi museum

Sisi Museum

Since 1994 the Sisi Museum has been housed in the Stephan apartments, so named after Archduke Stephan Viktor. Here numerous personal items that once belonged to Elisabeth are used to help illustrate the true personality of the frequently misunderstood Empress. The sensitively designed exhibits, created by renowned set designer Prof. Rolf Langenfass, are inspired by the monarch’s poetry and illustrate how the once light-hearted young girl, Sisi, became a restless, unapproachable and melancholic woman.

If you want to know more about the life of empress Sisi, please read this article.

The more than 300 items on display in the museum include parasols, boxes and gloves which once belonged to the anthrophobic Elisabeth, along with her beauty recipes, her death mask and the actual file used in her assassination, which is usually kept securely under lock and key. Further items include a reconstruction of the evening dress worn by 16 year old Sisi in 1854 before she left her home in Munich, and a replica of a section of her imperial railway carriage.

In 2006 the SKB bought the so-called Klauda Collection of approximately 240 items. Elisabeth’s travelling medical chest, her games case, a wash set and other items from the collection now feature in the exhibition. Other objects, such as her christening robes and milk tooth, are only displayed on special occasions.

In 2009, after 5 years in service and having welcomed over 3 million visitors, the Sisi Museum was closed for renovation and partial remodelling. The display was extended to include some spectacular exhibits, including the reconstructed Hungarian coronation dress, the black coat used to cover Elisabeth after the assassination, mourning jewellery and the young Sisi on her swing.

Source: Sisi Museum

Gay Sisi Museum Tour

Empress Elisabeth, the tragic, legendary representative of an epoch of decline, has long been an object of huge fascination for the gay community: whether as the saccharine “Sissi” of the famous 1950s films, the unapproachable figure in Visconti, the morbid fin de siècle icon of the musical, the embodiment of female self-determination and revolt against a society on the brink of collapse, a neurotic in constant flight whose absence only served to make her more present, or as a crazed parody in a queer trash musical.

Where does the fascination of this historical figure lie for gays and lesbians? What images and myths do they associate with her? Where do the fault lines lie between an ostensibly real historical figure and the images created of her – and indeed of the image she created of herself?

An exclusively designed tour of the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments in the Vienna Hofburg subjects the stages of Elisabeth’s life and the myths surrounding it to “queer” interpretation. It will focus not on the keyhole perspective of Sisi’s private life or that of the Habsburg family but on the images that Elisabeth evokes in our minds. The guided tour of the museum and apartments is followed by a walk in the historic city centre taking in places that are associated with Empress Elisabeth (e.g. Demel, Augustinerkirche, Köchert).

Duration of the tour including the museum and city walk: c. 2-2.5 hours)

Source: QWIEN