More than Hieronymus Bosch
New things in store for the collections of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
German literature- and art historian Julia M. Nauhaus started as Director of the Academy of Fine Arts Picture Gallery on April 1, 2016. At a meeting she spoke of her plans for the future.
Julia M. Nauhaus can skip the gym for now: the 41-year-old German tackles countless flights of steps every day as she gets to know her new workplace. On April 1, she began her post as Director of the Academy of Fine Arts Picture Gallery, home to magnificent Old Master works from the likes of Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Rembrandt. But still, far too few people know about it: the impressive collection of some 1,600 paintings continues to be something of an insider’s tip. “We’re not located directly on Ringstrasse,” says Nauhaus, who has made it her mission to bring not only the Picture Gallery, but also the Academy’s Print Room and Glyptotheque, its collection of plaster casts, to a wider audience.
Nauhaus is raring to go. She wants to establish a closer link between the different collections. She views museums as “living places of encounter”: “Our job is to mediate art, not just to hang pictures on the wall.” She succeeded admirably as Director of the Lindenau-Museum Altenburg, a post she started in 2012, creating close ties between the art school and the museum, boosting attendance and convincing the Thuringian town of some 33,000 residents to donate up to 90,000 euros for needed art restorations. One of her ideas for Vienna is to put the old collections in dialogue with contemporary productions featured at xhibit, the Academy’s exhibition space. But first on the agenda is a summer exhibition of 15th- to 18th-century master drawings from the Print Room, followed by those from the 19th and 20th centuries in early 2017.
A number of works still have yet to be shown to the public, Nauhaus assures us; it’s about enabling discoveries.
Renovations on the Academy building will begin in the summer of 2017 and are expected to last three years. There will be no exhibitions in the gallery’s own premises at that time. Nauhaus sees this interlude as a chance to come up with a new concept. Digitization of the collections will continue, the database will be updated, and objects from the museum holdings will be put online.
“I can’t do analogue exhibitions at this stage, but there will be more to see in the virtual sense,” the new director promises. She also wants more cooperation with other art institutions.
Nauhaus is no stranger to her new city. Even in the days of East Germany, the first trip her father, a musicologist, ever took to a foreign country was to Austria. The family was not allowed to join him on that particular trip, but later, thanks to contacts and friendships, the family went to Vienna and Lower Austria almost every year. Nauhaus has no blinkers in terms of art, either. She raves about visits to the Burgtheater, and when the job gets stressful (she initially signed a six-year contract) there is nothing like a walk in the Lainzer Tiergarten wildlife preserve.
“NATURE GONE ASTRAY? Hybrids, Gnomes and Monsters (not only) in the work of Hieronymus Bosch”
3 Nov. 2016–29 Jan. 2017
Picture Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts
Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna