North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and Siberia
The North African, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Siberian Collection at the Weltmuseum Wien, with its inventory of nearly 25,000 objects, numbers among the world’s most important collections pertaining to the everyday culture and characteristic objects of the regions it covers. The objectives that have determined the collecting strategy of this department over the past decades are reflected in the individual areas of the collection.
One major goal during the second half of the twentieth century was to systematically and selectively document Oriental handwork and arts and crafts throughout the ages, while another was to cover the symbolic forms in which folk religiosity was expressed in the four great monotheistic religions of the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism). This approach entailed that few if any objects were document and collected as “artworks,” most being instead acquired and studied in their historical, socioeconomic and cultural contexts. The by now mainly historical collections cover everyday culture in the Maghreb, Egypt, Anatolia, Iran and Afghanistan during the 19th and 20th century, as well as the material culture of the so-called “little peoples” of the Russian Far East around 1900.