It was Franz Karl Ginzkey who delivered the ceremonial address at the celebration of the Gastein jubilee exhibition on June 28th 1936, which was actually the forerunner of the Gastein Museum. The reason for the celebration was the 500th anniversary of Emperor Friedrich the Third’s visit to Bad Gastein for curative treatment. The Federal President of Austria, Mr. Wilhelm Miklas (1928 to 1938), the head of the Provincial Government of Salzburg, Franz Rehrl and the mayor of Bad Gastein, Mr. Obrutschka were present at the opening ceremony. The participation of these gentlemen shows the high esteem official Austria had for the first Gastein exhibition of exhibits gathered by Mr. Heinrich von Zimburg, director of curative treatment at that time. Many Gastein families either lent or gave the museum exhibits so that an exceptional museum resulted out of the jubilee exhibition. In 1936 the museum had already gathered numerous paintings by famous old masters like Tomas Ender, and Matthäus Loder, who were “Kammermaler” of archduke Johann of Austria (court painters – renowned painters of the time who accompanied the archduke on his journeys). The section for curative treatment showed the model of a collective bath. Typical minerals found in Gastein were bought and exhibited. Booths with memorable pieces used in gold mining were also exhibited.
The outbreak of the Second World War brought a turning point to the history of Gastein’s museum. It had to be closed and objects lent to the museum had to be returned. In 1946 a new start was made. Again it was Zimburg, who managed to purchase numerous objects referring to old Gastein, and thus save them from either being sold abroad or lost. An extensive mineral collection, belonging to Zschocke and Frohnwieser was bought. Among Frohnwieser’s minerals was a magnificent crystal rock, 65 cm high and 76 kg heavy, which was found at the foot of the Ankogel in 1937. Soon the lack of space – the museum was situated in the so-called “Grillparzer Corner” of the old Kursaal – hampered the development of the museum. In the mid sixties the museum again became homeless when the old Kursaal was demolished to build the new “Cure and Congress Centre”. Room for a museum was not in the plan, and so all items had to be packed away in boxes, and stored in the attic of Haus Austria, not always in an adequate manner.
New life in the history of the Gastein Museum began with the founding of the ”Verein der Freunde des Gasteiner Museums” (association of friends of the Gastein museum) in 1974. Gastein citizens, animated by Dr. Hermann Greinwald and Dr. Fritz Gruber of the Rotary Club Gastein as well as Fritz Kutter and Karl Winter, got together with the wish to found the new Gastein Museum. It is with gratitude that we remember the deceased Ing. Anton Kerschbaumer, mayor of Bad Gastein at that time, who provided room on the first floor of Haus Austria for the museum’s first exhibition.
On December 26th 1974 the Gastein Museum reopened with a special exhibition of national customs around the Gastein valley throughout the year. Further special exhibitions like “The History of Gastein shown in numerous illustrations” or “Crystal Rocks of the Tauern” followed, and became a central point on extensive shows about the history of Bad Gastein.
The sale of Haus Austria and the Congress Centre to a Viennese investor, not only had a fatal effect on the centre of town, but also made the museum homeless once more and so a removal was again necessary in October 2008. After careful consideration the museum’s managing committee decided to leave the location of the museum in the centre of town, and so contribute to keeping some life there. Thanks to Mrs. Rosina Tscherne’s courtesy the association was able to rent storage and exhibition rooms in the Grand Hotel de L’Europe. After a phase of planning by the architects FLEUS Salzburg, who substantially contributed to design and structural changes of the new rooms, the New Gastein Museum was opened with a ceremonial address given by Mrs. Tina Widmann, a member of the Provincial Government of Salzburg, on November 15th 2011.