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Shot in the attentive style of direct cinema – with no off-screen commentary, no interviews and no background music – the film observes the various processes involved in creating a perfect setting for art.

2 out of 4 stars

Written by
Johannes Holzhausen
Directed by
Johannes Holzhausen
Genre
Documentary
Country
Austria
Language
German

Any observational documentary about the inner workings of an institution will invite comparisons to Frederick Wiseman and his latest film National Gallery, or even more general interest fare such as Cineplex's recent "In The Gallery" series about the mounting of notable shows.

Connecting art to people in a meaningful way is also what Jem Cohen explored in his superb 2012 film Museum Hours – but that question is largely absent in Johannes Holzhausen's The Great Museum, about work leading up to the 2013 reopening of the Kunstkammer wing of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

The flitting glimpses of interesting moments and grand rooms don't shape into much of a narrative here, perhaps because the people featured also seem detached from a greater purpose.

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They range from custodial (the daily dusting of a giant statue's genitals) to head curatorial, and overall concerns are for the image projected on behalf of their main client: the republic of Austria.

There are more heated discussions on what sort of message the font of the new admission badges conveys ("that 'three' looks aggressive") than how to best design the upcoming exhibition.

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