The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna, Austria. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome. The term Kunsthistorisches Museum applies to both the institution and the main building. It is the largest art museum in the country and one of the most important museums worldwide.
It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Natural History Museum, Vienna, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have similar exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Both buildings were built between 1871 and 1891 according to plans drawn up by Gottfried Semper and Baron Karl von Hasenauer. The two Ringstraße museums were commissioned by the emperor in order to find a suitable shelter for the Habsburgs' formidable art collection and to make it accessible to the general public. The buildings are rectangular in shape, and topped with a dome that is 60 meters high. The façade was built of sandstone. The inside of the museums is lavishly decorated with marble, stucco ornamentations, gold-leaf and paintings. The staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is equipped with paintings by Gustav Klimt, Ernst Klimt, Franz Matsch, Hans Makart and Mihály Munkácsy.