Weltmuseum Wien

It's all about people.

Just as in many other ethnographic museums all around the world, it is necessary for the Weltmuseum Wien to take a critical look into its own past in order to shape its future. In the course of the last few centuries, some of what can today be admired in our exhibitions was collected under somewhat questionable circumstances. It is, therefore, all the more important for us to have an open dialogue, are self-critical and see ourselves as a forum in which as many voices as possible should be heard.

Who are we? What do we aspire to be? How do we understand the world and how do we want to be understood in the world? Questions which can often be answered in a mission statement, or as in our case a world view, after all, we are the Weltmuseum Wien.

To see or to be seen. Or: our world view.

We inspire.

Our ethnographical collections tell stories of historical importance and contemporary relevance, of the diversity of cultures and human creativity. Stories which captivate and inspire us to contemplate.

We are a living archive of cultures .

As cultural and social anthropologists we deal with the material and immaterial heritage of Austria’s encounters with the world. As a living archive we conserve, expand and investigate this heritage in a responsible manner.

We are open to different perspectives.

Encounters on common ground and open dialogues are important to us and we lay no claim to objective truth.

We are self-critical.

Our collections and the people who brought them to the museum are witnesses of their time. When doing research and relaying cultural information to our visitors we continuously reflect upon our past and search for new means for the future of our museum work.

We support cultural diversity.

In our museum work we take a stand on xenophobia and racism. Cooperating with communities in Austria and in the countries of origin is an important objective for us. We understand ourselves to be a place where many voices can be heard.

We are continuously working on our museum.

Scientific research is the basis for designing exhibitions, relaying information and collecting objects.  As Weltmuseum Wien we strive to display our treasures in a contemporary and innovative manner. Our exhibitions and events take cultural and social questions into account.

We value our visitors.

Visitors take centre stage in our work as a museum. We invite everyone to actively participate and strive to provide the best possible service.

We appreciate bad weather.

Weltmuseum Wien
Heldenplatz
1010 Vienna, Austria
+43 1 534 30-5052
​​​​​​​info@weltmuseumwien.at​​​​​​​

Information brochure (pdf, 645 KB)

Mission & History

Ethnological museums are witnesses to the cultural diversity and changes of our human societies.

Exhibitions provide ethnological museums with an opportunity to display their collections to the general public. The treasures they preserve are dedicated to the better understanding of individual cultures or regions of the world, or offer a comparative approach to the entire spectrum of cultural diversity.  

In their examination of cultural differences and that which all people have in common, ethnological museums render an important contribution to the understanding of a world that has become much smaller due to the improved possibilities of mobility and communication, and at the same time increasingly multicultural due to migration. It is our task to contextualise social changes and developments in today’s world by means of our extensive collections.

The Weltmuseum Wien – formerly the Museum of Ethnology – houses comprehensive collections of ethnographic objects, historical photographs, and books on non-European civilisations, making it one of the leading ethnographic museums in the world. Its roots can be traced back to the year 1806, when the “Imperial and Royal Ethnographic Collection” was established as part of the Imperial Natural History Cabinet after the partial acquisition of the “Cook Collection”. The continuously growing collections were transferred to the anthropological-ethnographic department of the Court Museum of Natural History in 1876. The Museum of Ethnology was formally opened in the Corps de Logis, Neue Burg, in 1928. 

Its earliest ethnographic artefacts of the Weltmuseum Wien date back to the 16th century. Renaissance chambers of art and curiosities comprised highly popular exotic objects. The collection of Archduke Ferdinand II at Ambras Castle in Tirol contained numerous important ethnographic artefacts, among them pre-Columbian and colonial feather objects, treasures from Mexico, and examples of African-Portuguese ivory carving. In the course of the Napoleonic Wars, the Ambras Collection ended up in Vienna. Aside from the Ambras Collection and the almost 250 objects collected by James Cook (1728–1779) on his travels and acquired in London in 1806, the foundation of the Imperial and Royal Ethnographic Collection was laid with the collections brought back from the Austrian Brazil Expedition (1817–1836), first and foremost the objects collected by the naturalist Johann Natterer, and the collection assembled on the journey around the world of the Austrian frigate “Novara” between 1857 and 1859.

Following the razing of Vienna’s old fortifications and the old city’s subsequent urban development and expansion, the Imperial and Royal Court Museum of Natural History replaced the venerable “court cabinets” in 1876. Its first director, Ferdinand von Hochstetter, divided the holdings into five collections, the fifth being the separate anthropological-ethnographic department, the predecessor of the Museum of Ethnology. The Imperial and Royal Court Museum of Natural History opened its doors in 1889, and Franz Heger was made director of the department. Heger’s brisk collecting activity, the acquisitions made by many explorers and travellers, the voyages undertaken by ships of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, and the generous patronage of members of the imperial court greatly increased the collection’s holdings. Soon, however, the lack of space was untenable, at the latest when the collection amassed by Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este on his voyage of circumnavigation of 1892/93 had to be incorporated: it comprised 14,000 ethnographic objects and more than 1,100 photographs. From as early as 1912, the “Este Collection” was displayed in the new wing of Hofburg Palace, which had initially been designed as imperial living quarters. In light of the discipline of ethnology’s new self-image and the slow drifting apart of the holdings of the anthropological-ethnographic department, the ethnographic collection was to be separated from the Museum of Natural History and installed in a separate museum in the Corps de Logis of Hofburg Palace, the Neue Burg. In 1928 the “Museum of Ethnology” was formally opened.

After the serious financial constraints of the interbellum period, World War II, and the immediate post-war era, when the Museum first served as a field hospital and then as the provisional home of the orthopaedic hospital, the general economic upswing of the years following the war led to the most innovative period in the history of the Museum of Ethnology. Galleries, depots and offices were expanded, and a chemical laboratory, a photographic studio with darkroom, a carpentry workshop, and even a printing press installed in the Museum. The Museum was finally able to print its own exhibition catalogues, event programmes etc. The Museum of Ethnology presented numerous temporary exhibitions at two permanent outposts – Matzen Castle and the former Carthusian monastery at Gaming – and in collaboration with numerous other museums. Between 1988 and 1994, a museum bus toured through Austria, presenting new thematic and/or regional exhibitions every year.

The 1990s witnessed a certain amount of turmoil, and a comprehensive renovation of the Museum could no longer be put off. The first building phase saw the cellars adapted to depots until 2001. In the course of the semi-privatisation of Austria’s federal museums, the Museum was incorporated into the museum group “Kunsthistorisches Museum mit Museum für Völkerkunde und Österreichisches Theatermuseum” in 2001. Between 2004 and 2007, the few remaining galleries open to the public – which had been renovated in the early 1990s – were closed due to the necessary renovation works. At that time, the Museum was extensively rebuilt and refurbished from the Ground Floor up to the attic: a lift for heavy objects and another one for the disabled were installed, the entire electronic and security system was replaced, an IT network was installed, the library was moved, an event space was added, some of the galleries were refurbished, the marble and stucco lustro elements of the Corps de Logis were restored, the conservation workshops re-equipped and enlarged, a new depot for textiles added, some of the galleries restored, and around 2,000 square metres of office space, research facilities, and seminar rooms created in the attic).

After the completion of the refurbishment, the Museum was reopened with the exhibition “Benin – Kings and Rituals” (9 May 2007 – 3 September 2007). One of the permanent galleries – “Divine Images, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Himalayas” was opened in 2008.

On 1 May 2012, Sabine Haag, General Director of the KHM-Museumsverband, and CFO Paul Frey appointed the Dutchman Steven Engelsman as the Museum’s new director. Under his lead, a comprehensive realignment of the Museum was planned. Following the government’s financial guarantee to fund these ambitious plans, they were presented to the public in April 2013. At the same time, the Museum was renamed “Weltmuseum Wien” and given a new corporate design. After the redesign of the permanent collection and public areas, the Weltmuseum Wien  opened in late 2017. On 1 January 2018, Christian Schicklgruber was appointed as new Director of the Museum.

Eventful Histories

Eventful Histories

In collaboration with the museum team an entertaining animated film with no spoken words was created for the reopening of the Weltmuseum Wien. You can watch it in front of the gallery "Collecting Craze. I Suffer from Museomania" on the Mezzanine Floor or here.

Contacts

Contacts for your visit

Cultural education & outreach programme, guided tours, and programme registration
+43 1 534 30-5150
kulturvermittlung@weltmuseumwien.at

Office Hours of the cultural education department (except holidays):
Mo., Tue., Wed. and Fr., 9 am till 1 pm
Thu., 9 am till 5 pm

Information, questions & suggestions
+43 1 534 30-5052
info@weltmuseumwien.at

Curatorial Departments and Research

Director, Curator South-, Southeast Asian and Himalayan Collections
Dr. Christian SCHICKLGRUBER
+43 1 534 30-5052
christian.schicklgruber@weltmuseumwien.at

Deputy Director, Chief Curator, Curator North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and Siberia Collections
Dr. Axel STEINMANN
+43 1 534 30-5030
axel.steinmann@weltmuseumwien.at

Curator South America Collection
Dr. Claudia AUGUSTAT
+ 43 1 534 30-5113
claudia.augustat@weltmuseumwien.at

Inventory and Photo Archive
Eva HACKL
+ 43 1 534 30-5116
eva.hackl@weltmuseumwien.at

Curator ad interim Sub-Saharan Africa Collection
Mag. Nadja HAUMBERGER
+43 1 534 30-5103
nadja.haumberger@weltmuseumwien.at

Curator Photo Collection
Mag. Manfred KAUFMANN
+ 43 1 534 30-5110
manfred.kaufmann@weltmuseumwien.at

Curator Insular Southeast Asian Collection
N.N.
+ 43 1 534 30-5052
info@weltmuseumwien.at

Curator North and Central American Collections
Gerard VAN BUSSEL
+ 43 1 534 30-5122
gerard.vanbussel@weltmuseumwien.at

Curator Oceania and Australia Collection
N. N.
+ 43 1 534 30-5052
info@weltmuseumwien.at

Curator East Asia: China, Korea, Japan
Dr. Bettina ZORN
+43 1 534 30-5117
bettina.zorn@weltmuseumwien.at

EU-Project “SWICH”
Mag. Doris PRLIC, MA
+43 1 534 30-5065
doris.prlic@weltmuseumwien.at

Head of Archive
Mag. lldiko CAZAN-SIMANYI
+ 43 1 534 30-5118
ildiko.cazan@weltmuseumwien.at

Further departments

Office of the Director/Administration
+43 1 534 30 5052-5053
info@weltmuseumwien.at

Marketing and Communication
+43 1 534 30-5124 / -5127
marketing@weltmuseumwien.at

Department of Learning
Mandana ROOZPEIKAR (Head of Department)
+43 1 534 30-5128
mandana.roozpeikar@weltmuseumwien.at

Press
+43 1 525 24-4024
info.pr@khm.at

Corporate Sponsoring/Fundraising
Mag. Bärbel Holaus-Heintschel
+43 1 525 24-4035
sponsoring@khm.at

Registrar, Exhibition Management
Tina Maria SEYFRIED
+43 1 534 30-5111
tina.seyfried@weltmuseumwien.at

Library
Heinz GRATZER
+ 43 1 534 30-5021
heinz.gratzer@weltmuseumwien.at

Conservation Department and Technical Services
Mag. Florian Gerhard RAINER
florian.rainer@weltmuseumwien.at

Room rental
+43 1 525 24-4030
event@khm.at

Director’s Office

Director’s Office

Dr. Christian Schicklgruber
Director

The Weltmuseum Wien has always been dedicated to non-European cultures – the very quintessence of the radical other and foreign. The historical division into “we” and “the others” has been broken up for several reasons: the others never existed, just as there was never such a thing as two others that were alike – every human being is unique. In contrast, the foreign is still there. The world has always been – and will always be – characterised by cultural diversity. The boundaries to what is foreign – not the foreign itself – become permeable and are broken down by the knowledge of our common human existence. The Weltmuseum Wien strives to have its visitors leave the Museum with the experience of human universality – and return for more.            

We are looking forward to your visit! 

Organisation

KHM-Museumsverband

The Weltmuseum Wien is part of the KHM-Museumsverband, General Director Dr. Sabine Haag and Chief Financial Officer Dr. Paul Frey.

Board of trustees
Dr. Rudolf Ertl (Chair)
Univ. Prof. Dr. Theodor Öhlinger (Vice Chair) 
Dr. Brigitte Borchhardt-Birbaumer
HR Dr. Josef Kirchberger
MMag. Dr. Thomas Kohlert
MMag. Bernhard Mazegger
Dr. Ingrid Nowotny
Amtsdirektor Johann Pauxberger
Peter Tampier

Rights & Reproduction

Rights & Reproduction

The Reproduction Department is responsible for all photo requests as well as reproduction and recording permits. We offer both digital and analog photo material from all collections of the KHM-Museumsverband. Moreover, we authorise, organise, and supervise all photo, television, video, and film recordings on museum premises.     

All pictures and text as well as photographic and audio material are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced, copied, altered or otherwise used without the express consent of the KHM-Museumsverband. 

Picture fees are based on the request medium, type, volume, and term of usage, and need to be agreed upon in advance.

Reproduction Request

Contact:
Shops & Repro

KHM-Museumsverband
Burgring 5, 1010 Wien
Tel +43 1 525 24- 3341
Fax +43 1 525 24- 3397
E-Mail info.repro@khm.at

Information
Shops & Repro
KHM-Museumsverband
Burgring 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria
+43 1 525 24- 3341
info.repro@khm.at

Jobs at the Museum

Jobs at the Museum

If you are interested in voluntary work for the Weltmuseum Wien, unpaid internships for your academic studies in social and cultural anthropology, and guest researcher positions, please send your application to:
info@weltmuseumwien.at

Information
Please send your applications including CV by email to:

KHM-Museumsverband
Wissenschaftliche Anstalt öffentlichen Rechts
Personnel Management
jobs@weltmuseumwien.at

Annual Report

Annual Report

The Weltmuseum Wien publishes a report on its extensive range of activities every year. Find out more about the academic work of our curators and conservators, the exhibitions of the year, and all our projects realised in the fields of cultural communication, marketing, sponsoring & fundraising, and the Weltmuseum Wien Friends.

Annual Report 2017 (in German) (pdf, 6 MB)

Weltmuseum Wien

Annual Report 2016 (in German) (pdf, 5 MB)

Weltmuseum Wien

Annual Report 2015 (in German) (pdf, 8 MB)

Weltmuseum Wien

Press

Press

In our press corner you can find press releases and press photographs at your disposal, to download free of charge, for your topical reporting.

Information
Nina Auinger-Sutterlüty, MAS
+43 1 525 24-4021

info.pr@khm.at

Feedback

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