On my next-to-last weekend in Vienna, I decided I really should learn more about Kaiserin Elisabeth, better known as “Sisi.” I’d been reading her recent biography “The Reluctant Empress” by Brigitte Hamann. (A lot of scholarly detail, some of which could have been cut or relegated to even more footnotes for a better read – but certainly a thorough portrayal of Sisi’s shy, then rebellious, and finally quite desperate life.) With better understanding of her history, I went on Saturday Jan. 18 to both the imperial furniture museum or “Möbelmuseum” and the “Sisi Museum” (her apartments in the Hofburg complex). The furniture depot is one of the more bizarre monuments to hoarding in history. This “Hofmobiliendepot” or served as the repository for all the Habsburgs’ unused furnishings – kind of like an imperial Public Storage unit on steroids. Over time this stash of furniture and knick knacks also became a source for period movies. The museum includes an exhibit about the many movies made about Sisi, which transformed her from a sad figure into a romantic, and then even feminist heroine. To the extent that she kicked against the traces of imperial court life and ritual, snuck off to make hospital visits without her proper entourage, and found solace in starving herself to maintain her legendary beauty, there are some parallels, I think, with Princess Diana of Wales – although Diana was clearly a devoted mother in ways that Sisi was not, or was not allowed to be. Here are some of my own images from the museum. For more images and information, check out http://www.hofmobiliendepot.at/en.html.