The Historisches Museum der k. k. österreichischen Staatsbahnen (Historical Museum of the Imperial Royal Austrian State Railways), located in the administrative headquarters of the Westbahnhof in Vienna, was founded on 1 April 1893. It was developed from older collections established during the time of private railways. For example, the k. k. private Kaiser Ferdinands-Nordbahn had already started to collect historical objects in the 1870s. The Semmeringbahn also had its own collection, kept from 1879 by the Department of Railway and Tunnel Engineering of the Technical University in Vienna. After the railways were nationalized in 1884, the railway historian Viktor Freiherr von Röll set out to found a railway museum. It was gradually enlarged until its transfer in 1918 as an independent institution to the Technisches Museum. During the First Republic and the Dollfuß-Schuschnigg regime it was administered along with the transport archive by the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Transport. In the Nazi era it became a separate department in the Reichsbahn directorate. The museum was headed from 1924 to 1947 by the historian Karl Josef Franz Feiler. After 1945 it became a department of the Generaldirektion der Österreichischen Bundesbahnen, and in 1980 the museum was closed. The archive and collection went to the Technisches Museum Wien, while the majority of the library was incorporated in the Verkehrsarchiv des Österreichischen Staatsarchivs (Transport Archive of the Austrian State Archives). As the Historical Austrian Railway Museum functioned from its establishment in 1863 until its incorporation in the Technisches Museum in 1980 as a documentation archive for the national railways, most of the objects come from the enterprise itself and may be regarded as unsuspicious in terms of restitution. However, private objects were taken up occasionally by the collections, whose provenance had to be investigated. In 2011 the Art Restitution Advisory Board studied the estate of the president of the Verwaltungskommission der Bundesbahnen Österreichs, Karl von Banhans. While the bust bequeathed by him to the museum on his death in 1942 was not eligible for restitution, the Board recommended the restitution to his legal successors of the estate held by the Verkehrsarchiv.
Beschluss des Kunstrückgabebeirats, Karl Banhans, 10.6.2011, URL: www.provenienzforschung.gv.at/beiratsbeschluesse/Banhans_Karl_2011-06-10.pdf (3.12.2020).
Beschluss des Kunstrückgabebeirats, Karl Banhans, 10.6.2011, URL: www.provenienzforschung.gv.at/beiratsbeschluesse/Banhans_Karl_2011-09-29.pdf (3.12.2020).
Beschreibender Katalog des k. k. historischen Museums der österreichischen Eisenbahnen, Wien 1902.
I. Nachtrag zum beschreibenden Katalog des k. k. historischen Museums der österreichischen Eisenbahnen, Wien 1906.