The Key to … at the Key and Lock Museum in Graz

There are a lot of different museums in the world, thinking just about the museum of broken relationships in Los Angeles for example. When I was visiting my friend in Graz we were at the Key & Lock Museum. I didn’t know what to expect.

Actually the building from outside looks like a big garage, just a concrete building, nothing that looks like a museum where normally you can see old things. We had even to ring the bell. A young lady greeted us and led us upstairs through a hall and into an office. Here we could pay our fee and she then explained in a huge hall what we will see and where we have to go.

On three different floors there are more than 13.000 objects. Keys, locks, wooden caskets and trunks, locking systems and door mountings and all that has to do with closing a door. They are made of steel, wood, ivory, gold and silver, mother-of-pearl or tortoiseshell. These objects are all a private collection of the Schell family. Many information boards explain the most curious things like why a sugar bowl once was locked up.

Even some manequins in antique dresses are giving the sense of which time period we are going through right now.

The time period of all these objects is expansive. It goes from antiquity to the 20th century. The objects are from all over the world, from Europe, Asia and Africa. The last floor shows even complete doors from ancient, long died cultures like the old Egyptians or Babylonians. There’s also a nice place to sit and rest thinking about all these different locking systems they used in millennia already.

Showcases with a huge number of golden or silver keys from baroque or Renaissance are really impressive. But also hundreds of keys from Africa more than 1.000 years old are really mind opening. Humans always wanted to lock something, to hide.

I also found out that the chastity belt never existed and is a myth. Which makes me feel better! How could anyone ever wear something like that, even going on a journey and for security?

We spent a few hours in the museum with an American and a German couple. This museum is really worth seeing, even if it is not easy to find. It is important to have enough time because keys definitely are not only keys, they are much more and super interesting. Key bits are oftentimes amazing, they can be so very elaborate.

Graz, Styria,/Austria:

For further information:
Key Museum – Schell-Collection
Wiener Straße 10
8020 Graz
Tel: +43 316 / 71 56 56 – 38
Fax: +43 316 / 71 56 56 – 38

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