Seven years ago the Sisi Museum opened at the Imperial Palace in Vienna, and the marketing geniuses at the Hof are just now sending out the press release. Here’s a snippet:
In 2004 the Sisi Museum opened in a section of the Imperial Apartments once occupied by the empress. With more than 300 personal objects on display, the exhibition avoids the usual clichés, presenting Elisabeth’s true personality in a sensitive exploration of the empress’s life and fate. Elisabeth’s verse is used to illustrate her emotional states of mind at each stage of her life, from her carefree girlhood to the restless, aloof and melancholic woman she later became.
I’m curious about the clichés claim. For instance, do these 300 personal objects not focus on my obsessive hair-brushing, teeth-whitening and tight lacing? Will my diary entries not lie open for scrutiny? As far as I can tell, the clichés about me are thus: I was an aloof bitch; I was vain; I was a terrible mother; I was kind to Hungarians; I had unsightly teeth; I was the central figure of a beauty cult. To name a few.
Hopefully, amongst these 300 personal objects are the locket pictures of my sisters that I held dear. My Hungarian-Austrian translation pocket dictionary. The dog brush for my wolfhounds. My pack of custom tarot cards.
Yes, tarot cards.
I was a fan of the mystical, and, indeed, I’m happy to report, there’s a fabulous new tarot app for your smart phone! Why, if I were around today, I would insist that all guests of the Sisi Museum have their cards read, either digitally, or by a Hungarian mystic, like Marie Festetics, my attendant and the go-between for my chaste love affair with Count Gyula Andrássy.
All I can do now, from my crypt, is offer my hopes that the assemblers of the Sisi Museum really do have sensitivity into my true and complicated heart, for it was full. It spilled over ten-fold. Perhaps there is some concrete evidence of that amongst the 300 personal objects.