For centuries, the wealth of books that had already been brought together to create a library under Emperor Maximilian II (1527-1576) were subjected to changing storage locations and a permanent lack of space. It was not until generations later, during the reign of Emperor Charles VI (1711-1740), that they were given a prestigious library building: the Court Library, now the State Hall in the Austrian National Library.
The planning and interior design of this baroque masterpiece is attributed to Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1656-1723). Bernhards son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach (1693-1742), who completed the magnificent building begun in 1723 and opened around 1735, had a decisive influence on the design of the exterior façade. In the special exhibition on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the death of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and the 300th anniversary of the start of construction of the State Hall, original manuscripts, monumental engravings, plans and sketches from the time of construction are used to present the concept of the Hall as a book room and as a hall of fame for the Habsburgs – with artistically designed bookcases, marble Habsburg statues, busts and globes as well as the magnificent cycle of frescos by Daniel Gran (1694-1757).
The exhibition also examines the subsequent fate of this magnificent building. Fortunately, the State Hall survived disasters such as the fire during the 1848 Revolution, the bombing raids of the Second World War and the Hofburg fire of 1992 largely unscathed.
In 1955, the State Hall was extensively renovated for the first time; after the restoration work completed at the end of 2022, it can once again be experienced in its new splendour.
Curated by Andreas Fingernagel