28 June 2022
Post originally written in: Deutsch Information An automatic machine translation. Super fast and almost perfect.

The Summer exhibition 2022 "One World - Power of the 4 Elements" at Ambras Castle Innsbruck is dedicated to the basic materials of water, fire, earth and air from June 16 to October 2, 2022.

The fascination for the elements probably lies on the one hand in their unfathomable beauty and on the other hand in their destructive power. Ancient philosophers initially assigned power over the elements to various gods. Numerous artists depicted these myths in many different ways. Gradually, science provided us with more understanding of the interplay of the elements. But even today, we are often powerless over these elemental forces, as the effects of climate change clearly demonstrate. The exhibition "One World" shows how the view of the elements has changed over time. Here one experiences both the art-historical and the contemporary perspective.

A torrential mountain stream conquers the Spanish Hall of Ambras Castle. - This can be seen on the impressive subject of the exhibition "One World - Power of the 4 Elements" (cover photo: Helmut Wimmer). This work by Austrian media artist Helmut Wimmer is part of a four-part series. The historical site of the Spanish Hall is thereby exposed to the four elements and presented in a modern way by means of computer collages.

Ambras Castle Innsbruck

The exhibition venue in itself is for me something extraordinary and fairytale-like Ambras Castle goes back to Archduke Ferdinand II. who gave the Renaissance castle to his beloved bourgeois wife Philippine Welser. It is considered the first museum in the world. Ferdinand passionately collected art and curiosities, which he consequently presented in the armory, art and curiosity chambers, as well as in the portrait gallery. The Ambras collections are top-class, extensive and definitely worth seeing.

Particularly beautiful are also the gardens around the castle, where (even without an exhibition) a walk is worthwhile. The elements are best felt in nature. Therefore the Exhibition Stations in the castle park, at the waterfall as well as in the Bacchus grotto are literally obvious and a coherent experience.

One World - Power of the 4 Elements

The summer exhibition can be seen in the women's chambers of the castle on the second floor. With 150 objects (!) in a total of six rooms , not only the historical but also the current view of the four elements is illustrated. The exhibits (many of which are sensational) come from the rich collection of Ambras Castle in Innsbruck, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and from various collections throughout Europe.

The exhibits include paintings, sculptures, historical globes, books, table centerpieces, drinking vessels and a perspective theater, but also contemporary works from the field of "Climate Change Art & Design", which attract attention above all with innovative materials.

Water, Fire, Earth, Air

Most interesting to me are the many allegorical depictions of gods, which remind me strongly of my school days. I have always loved the exciting, passionate, intriguing, confusing and all too human sagas of the gods. This painting shows the fertility goddess Ceres with the four elements, elaborately and richly detailed by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hendrik van Balen (1604, oil on copper, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie).


The element water stands for the source of life, for movement, growth, purification, tranquility and for discoveries. The oceans span the blue planet and symbolize infinity and unfathomability. Floods and inundations, on the other hand, demonstrate the immense power of water.


Fire provides light, heat and energy. It burns only in interaction with the element air and is extinguished by water. Fire is also important in crafts. Its broad spectrum ranges from fascinating fireworks to threatening firearms. Fires and volcanic eruptions, on the other hand, show the destructive power of fire. Arcimboldo's fire painting is a highlight of the exhibition. In his allegory, he composes a face from a burning hairstyle, a nose and ear from fire iron, a neck from a candle, and fire weapons. The work of the court painter of Emperor Maximilian II is also a clear demonstration of the power of the Habsburgs. Standing in front of the painting, you can hear the crackling of a fire in the background. Thus, the exhibition becomes an experience for all the senses.


We associate fertility, nourishment, mineral resources and permanence with the element of earth. In the earth lies the beginning and the end of everything. Agriculture, mining, trade, and many other pillars of our civilization are rooted in it. However, this element also brings natural disasters.
"Climate Change Art & Design" provides the link to the present in the exhibition. The exhibits are often made of innovative and sustainable materials Fungiskin of ZVUNDER, for example, is made into "mushroom leather" from tinder fungus. Frumat 's AppleSkin is made using waste from apple juice extraction. Visually, the pieces look like soft leather.


Air also means life. This element connects heaven and earth and stands for lightness, freedom, boundlessness, eternity, creativity and intellect. Air is not tangible, but it powerfully provides wind, weather and storms.

Guided tours through the elements

I was able to experience an impressive and very enthusiastic guided tour through the exhibition and would definitely recommend such a tour. In a good hour, you can easily learn everything about the objects on display plus - and this is actually the most interesting part - a few stories about them. In addition, there is the possibility to clarify any questions directly, and that is very practical. For me, the tour was a highlight because it was extremely engaging and really rousing. Great!

Guided tours of the exhibition take place daily at 3:30 pm. Dates for the children's program and curator tours are listed at the end of this article and on the Exhibition website website.


The historical examination of the elements is clearly in the foreground in the exhibition. As a person interested in history, I find that wonderful. With the contemporary works, the bow is drawn to the present. The power of the elements is present in today's news every day anyway and this current explosiveness of the topic is touched on in "One World" with exciting approaches. - Really worth seeing!

I would like to thank the staff at Ambras Castle, especially Julia Unterlechner, for their friendly cooperation and for providing information and pictures for this article.


Exhibition "One World - Power of the 4 Elements": June 16 - October 2, 2022,
Curators: Dr. Claudia Lehner-Jobst, Dr. Katharina Seidl, Dr. Veronika Sandbichler and Dr. Thomas Kuster
Schloss Ambras Innsbruck: Schlossstraße 20, 6020 Innsbruck, Tel.: +43 1 52524-4802,,
Opening hours: daily 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., closed in November
Admission included with Innsbruck Card


Guided tour of the exhibition: daily at 15:30
Curator's tour: 24.06., 22.07., 05.08. and 30.09.2022

Water, Fire, Earth, Air: 60-minute guided tour for children: 16.07., 06.08. and 24.09.2022, 2:30 p.m.
Program as part of the Innsbruck Holiday Train: 90-minute workshop for children:
24.08. and 07.09.2022, 2:30 p.m

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