By Nisa Iduna Kirchengast - Editors: Daniel Kunc, Thomas Mauerhofer

The Carnuntinum Museum is another site of the Roman town of Carnuntum in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg and houses the original antique artefacts from Carnuntum and its surroundings. As a kind of ‘Carnuntum treasure trove’, artefacts from the everyday life of the ancient legionary camp and the civilian settlement areas of Carnuntum can be found here. Since its opening at the beginning of the 20th century, the museum has been one of the largest Roman collections in Austria, with over 2 million exhibits from archaeological excavations and donations. The history of the museum is closely linked to the beginnings of archaeological research in Carnuntum. As early as 1852, Baron Eduard von Sacken laid the foundation stone for an important Roman collection, and the first scientific excavations began at the end of the 19th century. The foundation of the Carnuntum Association (now the Society of the Joy of Carnuntum) in 1884 paved the way for the establishment of the museum, which was financed by private funds and various sponsors from the imperial family, the upper middle classes, science and business. The Carnuntinum Museum was finally officially opened by Emperor Franz Joseph I on 27 May 1904 and was the first excavation museum in the German-speaking world at the time. 

«die werthvollen Denkmäler haben . . . eine sichere Unterkunft gefunden»
Kaiser Franz Joseph I. bei der Eröffnung des AMC 1904

The museum building itself, which was designed by architects Friedrich Ohmann and August Kirstein, reflects the historicist style of a Roman country villa with many typical provincial Roman elements: a symmetrical floor plan with a clear layout and visible building materials such as brick, stone and concrete. The ground floor is designed as an open atrium, behind the entrance area is a lowered, modelled Mithraic cave, in which the large (partially reconstructed) Mithraic cult image found in Petronell-Carnuntum in 1894 is displayed. The upper floor has a gallery in the ‘Atriumumgang’ and two side wings, in which further original finds from the numerous excavations and donations are exhibited. Behind the building is a garden with a lapidarium and stone monuments on display. The museum building was partially damaged during the Second World War and the post-war period and was reopened in 1992 after extensive renovation.


The museum's exhibition presents a large number of finds, including gravestones, mosaics, statues, coins and much more, which illustrate Roman life in the provincial capital and the military on the border of the Roman Empire. Today, 120 years after its opening, the museum is showing the exhibition ‘Weltstadt am Donaulimes’, which aims to do justice to the founding idea and thus present the latest research findings on Carnuntum in a vivid form and using impressive exhibits from the provincial collections of Lower Austria. The exhibition shows the urban structure of Carnuntum and sheds light on the functions of the Roman metropolis and the lives of its inhabitants. The Museum Carnuntinum thus remains not only a place of preservation and exhibition, but also a lively centre of research and education that preserves the past for the future.

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