History of the working group on Karst and Caves

Until 1979 there existed a department for cave protection as part of the federal monuments protection office in Vienna . That department did documentation work and also research, e.g. conservation of paleontological finds in caves. Due to a change of federal cave protection law the department became part of the Natural History Museum Vienna in 1979 and changed its name to Speleological Institute . It was headed by Dr. Hubert Trimmel. In 1983 the institute moved from Hofburg to its present address Museumsquartier (the earlier royal stables, then Messepalast). In 1987 it was remodelled and got its present name “ Karst and Cave Department - Speleological Documentation Centre” .

In many respects it can be seen as successor of an even earlier Speleological Institute that was part of the ministry of agriculture and had a long tradition of karst and cave exploration in general and later on dealt mainly with matters of karstic waters.

In 2012, the department was integrated as a working group into the Geological-Paleontological Department.
The working group has an intensive cooperation with the Austrian Speleological Association (VÖH) and its member organisations and show caves. The members do cave documentation and exploration work, furthermore applied research - such as projects dealing with Vienna ’s water supply, 96% of which stems from karst areas - comes to the fore.

Up to date this comparably young department due to lack of space was not able to implement a show collection in the main building on the Ringstraße. Yet, recently there has been shown a cave exposition in several karst and cave areas of Austria . Furthermore we published a little folder called “Speläopfad” (Speleopath) which guides through the cave and karst relevant parts of the museum’s show collections.