The cannon collection of the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum today comprises around
550 pieces of artillery and is thus one of the most important collections of its kind. The majority
of these pieces came from the old imperial arsenal. Through the addition of design projects and experimental guns of the Austro-Hungarian technical and administrative military committee, the collection continued to grow and during the First World War many new items were also added. The total number of guns in the collection at that time can only be guessed at today but there must have been around 1,200. During the Second World War many items of historical value were melted down for their iron and non-ferrous metals and this practice continued immediately aft er the war, in part to help fi nance the reconstruction of the museum through sales of the metal from melted-down guns.
Apart from the items exhibited within the museum building and those standing in front of the façade, most of the guns are exhibited in two special buildings next to object 1 (Objekt 1), the ‘Artillery Halls’, which were built after the Second World War to replace buildings that had been bombed.
The building to the left of the museum of object 1 shows the development of the Austrian artillery from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. Probably the most historically valuable part of the collection, the wroughtiron guns of the Middle Ages, can be seen in a side room. Along with some small stone bombards from the 15th century, the ‘Pumhart von Steyr’, a thousand-pound stone mortar, is particularly impressive. In another room and in the central area Austrian bronze guns from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries are shown.
The right-hand Artillery Hall (object 17) contains mainly collections of ‘foreign’ pieces of artillery, which are exhibited in the central area. Apart from Venetian and Ottoman guns, there are also numerous French pieces, most of them captured in the wars between 1792 and 1813. The two side rooms are dedicated to pieces from the Austrian artillery; in one room a large number of early breech-loading guns are exhibited and the other shows the transition to the modern artillery of the 19th and 20th centuries.
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