With an exhibition area measuring around 1,000 m2, the Josephinum now houses a newly designed medical history exhibition with a contemporary focus, spanning a wide range of topics from the founding era of the building to today's cutting-edge medicine. The greatest attraction at the Josephinum is the world-famous anatomical wax models. Emperor Joseph II acquired the collection in Florence and used it for teaching purposes in the "military-surgical Joseph’s Academy" that he founded in 1785. Following their restoration, the wax models are now once again on display in their original display cases made of rosewood and hand-blown Venetian glass.
Other highlights of the Josephinum include the surgical instrument collection of Alessandro Giovanni Brambilla from the 18th century, the world's first endoscope from 1806, the preserved stomach upon which Theodor Billroth performed the world's first successful gastric resection in 1880, a handwritten curriculum vitae by Sigmund Freud, and the file used to assassinate Empress Elisabeth in Geneva. In addition to showcasing historical artefacts, the new museum concept developed by curator Niko Wahl and the Josephinum team now combines a university collection with convertible exhibition space and also explores current bioethical debates.
Historical lecture hall converted into a venue for events
In addition to the collectibles on public display for the first time, the landmarked building itself is also worth a visit following extensive renovations. Building defects from previous decades have been removed, outdated interior structures have been adapted to modern museum requirements, and the Josephinum building can once again be entered centrally via the main entrance. A special feature is the restoration of the historic lecture hall, originally extending over two floors, which was divided in the 1940s with the addition of a false ceiling. When the ceiling was removed, the original wall paintings from 1785 were also uncovered and some of them were restored. The semi-circular, nine-meter-high auditorium will be used for events and concerts in the future.
The construction and renovation measures were planned by the Graz-based architectural firm eep Architekten and were carried out in close collaboration with the Federal Office for the Protection of Monuments. The Federal real Estate Agency [Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft] has invested around 11 million euros in the renovations.
Josephinum - Collections at the Medical University Vienna
The Josephinum was founded in 1785 by Emperor Joseph II as the military-surgical Joseph’s Academy and is one of the most important models of classical architecture in Vienna as well as an outstanding symbol of the Enlightenment in Austria. The museum houses MedUni Vienna's medical history collections, including unique anatomical wax models from Florence as well as historical instruments, artefacts, books, archives and manuscripts. Today, the Josephinum serves as a platform for exchange, education and research in the field of history and ethics in medicine.
Markus Müller, Rector of MedUni Vienna
"The valuable collections at the Medical University Vienna have now been restored to their proper setting in the splendidly renovated Josephinum. I am pleased that our medical history museum can now be reopened not only as a space for reflection on achievements, but also on the low points in medicine."
Martin Polaschek, Minister of Education, Science and Research
"The Josephinum embodies the collection of medical knowledge and the documentation of scientific progress in medicine. This is where history and today's knowledge meet. In a unique way, it documents how far science has come and the medical knowledge we are grateful for. In order to strengthen confidence in science, we need to again show more clearly what we have to be grateful for. The Josephinum offers families, school classes and other interested parties a unique insight into the history of medicine. I am therefore very pleased that it now has a new sheen after the renovations."
Hans-Peter Weiss, CEO [Federal Real Estate Agency] Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m.b.H.
"With the renovations, the Josephinum has become a modern museum building and centre for knowledge dissemination. Building flaws from the past decades have been removed, wall paintings from the period of construction have been uncovered and asphalt paths in the courtyard have been unsealed. This architectural gem is one of 350 buildings listed in our portfolio. These buildings require our special attention. Their preservation is important for the architectural culture of our country and crucial for our environment. If they are preserved, adapted where necessary and, above all, used, that is climate protection in action."
Christiane Druml, Director of the Josephinum, MedUni Vienna Collections
"We are happy that the renovation highlights the beauty of the building and, above all, that the historic lecture hall, the "heart" of the building, has been restored. This means that the Josephinum is superbly equipped for the future. Vienna is the place where scholarly medicine began; the Medical University Vienna and the Josephinum are proud to shoulder the obligation to represent this historical development in the newly designed museum."
Key data on renovations:
Construction started: February 2019
Construction completion: August 2021 | Museum completion: September 2022
Open from: September 29, 2022
Total net floor space: 5,700 m²
Gross investment costs: approx. 11 million euros
General planner renovation: eep architekten ZT-GmbH, Graz
Architect of the Josephinum: Isidore Canevale (1730-1786)
Building owner and proprietor of the property: Federal Real Estate Agency [Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft]
Währinger Street 25, 1090 Vienna
+43 1 40160 26000
Wed-Sat & public holidays 10am-6pm, Thu 10am-8pm
Free admission from 29.9.-1.10.2022