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Europe's Greatest Dynasty: The Habsburgs


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Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto, 1722 Venice - 1780 Warsaw; The Imperial Summer residence of Schönbrunn - detail; 1759/176; 35 x 235 cm; Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

The Habsburgs were one of Europe’s longest-reigning dynasties, with sovereignty that lasted nearly 600 years and was achieved through strategic marriages, political alliance and conquest. One of the ways the family chose to display their power was by commissioning and collecting extraordinary artwork, which is on display as a part of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ exhibit The Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe’s Greatest Dynasty. Many of the pieces have never before been seen in the United States, as they are housed inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which was founded by Franz Joseph, one of the Habsburgs. In all 93 artworks and artifacts will be displayed, ranging from armor and court costumes to Greek and Roman antiquities and paintings by masters like Correggio, Rubens, Titian and Velázquez. The exhibit focuses on the three periods of the Habsburgs’ greatest prosper, overall exploring the rise and fall of their empire, from the family’s political ascendance in the Middle Ages to their height of power in the 16th and 17th centuries, expansion of the dynasty in the 18th and 19th centuries, and decline at the end of World War I. Key pieces displayed include Caravaggio’s The Crowning with Thorns, a portrait of Jane Seymour, the former Queen of England, and Jupiter and lo by Correggio.

If you want to do more than just see the exhibit, consider taking part in one of these related events:

The Habsburgs: Painting a Tale (March 7, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.): This youth class is aimed at ages 13-17, and will allow you a closer look at the stories told through the images in the exhibit, as well as a chance to try your hand at oil painting. $60, $48 for members.

Kings, Queens & Castles (March 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.): This is a Family Day fit for a king or queen, with activities such as art-making, storytelling, tours, hands-on demonstrations, and the opportunity to go on a top secret mission with artists from Children's Theatre Company happening throughout the day. Free.

The Habsburgs: Courtly Life (March 14, 12:30-3:30 p.m.): This three-session youth class is aimed at ages 9-12, in which you'll explore the exhibit, design a family crest, take on the role of court painter, and imagine what you'd look like if you were a member of the Habsburgs. $108, $87 for members.

The Tournaments of the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance (March 22, 2 p.m.): Listen as Dr. Stefan Krause, curator of arms and armor at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, describes the history of these tournaments and the armor used. $10, $5 for members.

Posers: Marvel, Majesty, and Sovereignty among the Habsburgs and in Vermeer (April 19, 2 p.m.): Lawrence Weschler, director of emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, will discuss Vermeer's portraits, looking into who is posing whom and why a painter tries to capture certain stances. $10, $5 for members.

Public Tours: Available at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily, as well as Thursdays at 7 p.m. May 5-10, docents will be in the galleries.

Audio Tours: Gather insight into the exhibit and works from curators at the Minneapolis Insitute of Arts and Kunsthistoriches Museum. $5, $4 for members.

Exhibit admission: $20 adults, $16 for members.

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