A Chronological History of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts

Schillerplatz © Gerhard Koller

1688    Peter Strudel, court and chamber painter to Emperor Leopold I, opened a private academy.

1692    Earliest mention of the Academy's official recognition by the Emperor - it is thus the oldest art academy in Central Europe. Lessons were held in Peter Strudel's private residence near Währinger Straße.

1714    When Peter Strudel died, the Academy was temporarily closed down.

1726    Reestablishment as Imperial Court Academy, a public institution, under Emperor Charles VI, with chamber painter Jacob van Schuppen as prefect. The school was accommodated in Van Schuppen's apartment in Kärntner Straße. Its curriculum included painting, sculpture, architecture, and engraving.

1731-1759    The school changed quarters several times. It was mostly located in Vienna's first district.

1756    Under the rectorate of Paul Troger, 217 new students enrolled, which marked an unprecedented heyday in the school's history.

1759    The Court Academy moved into the building of the former university - today's Academy of Sciences.

1766    Foundation of an engraving school by the copper engraver Jakob Matthias Schmutzer under the reign of Empress Maria Theresa. This Imperial and Royal Engraving Academy in Annagasse soon became a rival of the Court Academy.  

1772    State Chancellor Wenzel Anton Prince Kaunitz united all of the then-extant art schools within the k.k. freye, vereinigte Akademie der bildenden Künste, today's Academy of Fine Arts: the Imperial and Royal Court Academy of Painters, Sculptors and Architects, the Imperial and Royal Engraving Academy, as well as the Engravers' and Ore Cutters' School, and later on, the Commercial Drawing School.

1773    The library, which until 2003 also included a print room, was first mentioned in records.

1783    Joseph II decreed that all craftsmen take their master's exam at the Academy and present their masterpiece. Drawing lessons at ordinary schools were placed under the supervision of the Academy, which put forth the candidates for the position of drawing teachers.

1786    The Academy moved to the so-called St.-Anna-Gebäude in Annagasse. Public art exhibitions were held.

1800    The Academy was placed under the supervision of an Imperial "curator."

1810-1848    State Chancellor Clemens Wenzel von Metternich became "curator" of the Academy.

1812    The Academy as supreme art authority was endowed with numerous privileges.

1822    Count Anton Lamberg-Sprinzenstein's bequest laid the foundation for the picture gallery, comprising primarily works by Rubens, Van Dyck, and 17th-century Netherlandish painters.

1829    Georg Ferdinand Waldmüller was appointed first curator of the picture gallery.

1848    The Academy was partly closed down during the Revolution.

1850    The Academy was no longer the supreme art authority, but an art school directly responsible to the Ministry of Education.

1871    Approval of the construction of the new building in Schillerplatz after plans by Theophil Hansen.

1872    According to a statute passed by Emperor Francis Joseph I, the Academy was turned into a Hochschule (college); from then on, its rector was elected and it disposed of a faculty of professors. Decorative arts ceased to be taught at the Academy.

1877    Festive opening of the new building in the presence of Emperor Francis Joseph I. Anselm Feuerbach, among others, was commissioned with its interior decoration, which was completed in 1892.

1920/21    Women were first admitted to the Academy.

1935    Foundation of the Department of Conservation and Technology.

1936    Scenography was introduced as a master course.

1938    Ethnic purge among the faculty; appointment of a temporary administration.

1941    Art education was introduced as a master course.

1944-1945    Classes were resumed in the severely damaged building in Schillerplatz in April 1945 under the provisional rector Herbert Boeckl.

1955    The Academy Organization Act provided for scientific departments supplementing tuition in master courses.

1996    The Semperdepot (built between 1874 and 1877 after plans by Gottfried Semper as a scenery depot for the Federal Theaters) was revitalized by Rector Carl Pruscha to be used by the Academy as studio facilities.

1998    Under the Art Academy Organization Act, the Academy was de jure turned into a university, but retained its name Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien.

2002    The 2002 University Organization Act provided for the Academy's legal autonomy, with the rector, vice-rectors, academic senate, and university council put in charge of its operation.

2005    Rector Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen's development plan, restructuring courses and providing for a three-tier system of bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees, was approved by the university council.

2011    As of October 2011, the Academy is headed by a team of women for the first time of its history. Eva Blimlinger is leading the Academy as rector together with Andrea B. Braidt as vice-rector for art and research and Karin Riegler as vice-rector for teaching and promotion of early stage artists/researchers.

Atelierhaus Studio Building
© Peter Dressler