The photographic collection of the Weltmuseum Wien contains approximately 96,000 objects, and deserves attention from the standpoints of both ethnology and the history of photography. It began in 1880, around 40 years after the invention of photography. Its task was to support the research and exhibition activities of the Anthropological-Ethnographic department in the imperial and royal Court Natural History Museum in Vienna.
Photography was initially considered a purely documentary medium that depicted reality “objectively.” New insights came later: one recognized the subjective character of photography and considered aesthetic questions. One became conscious of the degree to which the view of the world and its inhabitants is influenced through media.
The collection includes important examples of early travel and research photography, including works by Albert Frisch, Joachim von Brenner-Felsach, Otto Finsch, Oscar Baumann, Eduard Hodek, Rudolf Pöch, Helene and Rudolf Oldenburg, Christoph Fürer-Haimendorf und Mario Baldi. In addition, the extensive holdings document the development of commercial photography outside of Europe in the late 19th century through photos from established studios.
Director: Mag. Christine Zackel M.A.