The Aztecs

15 October 2020 to 22 June 2021
Weltmuseum Wien is hosting an exhibition that showcases the legendary art and culture of the Aztecs. This comprehensive show offers visitors the first-ever chance to get to know the Aztecs in their cultural context.


About the exhibition

About the exhibition

In the early sixteenth century, at the time of the Spanish conquest, the Aztecs who called themselves Mexica ruled large parts of Mesoamerica. A nomadic people now named after Aztlán, their mythical place of origin, they eventually settled on a number of small islands in Lake Texcoco, where around 1325 they founded the city of Tenochtilan, today’s Mexico City. In the fifteenth century the Aztecs ruled over a large and powerful empire, and in the sixteenth century they are among the best-documented Mesoamerican civilizations.

The exhibition begins with the periphery of the Aztec Empire (c.1430–1521) and Mexico’s natural and cultural riches, from where it moves to the heart of the Aztec Empire and its capital Tenochtitlan, which functioned as both its economic hub and its religious and cultural centre. After walking through the imperial palace of Emperor Moctezuma, visitors enter the empire’s centrepiece: the sacred precinct, home to the most important temple, the Templo Mayor.

On show are over 200 artefacts and loans from Mexican and European museums, among them the Museo del Templo Mayor, the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico-City, the Musées Royaux d’Art et de Histoire (Brussels), the National Museum of Denmark (Copenhagen), the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam), the Museum Volkenkunde (Leiden), the Museum der Kulturen Basel, and the Museum am Rothenbaum (Hamburg), as well as artefacts from the collections of the Weltmuseum Wien and the Imperial Armoury of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna.

The special exhibition The Aztecs was conceived and curated by the Linden-Museum Stuttgart in collaboration with the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen in the Netherlands and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) in Mexiko. Its first stop was Stuttgart (2019/20), and in June 2021 it will move from Vienna to the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden.

The safety of our guests is our top priority. That is why we offer free timeslot tickets for the highlight exhibition. Book your desired timeslot conveniently online. This guarantees a pleasant and safe visit with a limited number of exhibition visitors.

Daily (except Monday)
10 am to 6 pm
10 am to 9 pm

Weltmuseum Wien

Neue Hofburg, Heldenplatz
1010 Vienna, Austria

Digital Talks

Dienstagabend im Museum

The Weltmuseum Wien is a place of exchange and encounter. In cooperation with Weltmuseum Wien Friends, artists, scientists and communities, we invite you on Tuesdays evening to get deeper insights and new perspectives in our collections and exhibitions.

Discover our upcoming programme here or click through the videos below the enjoy previous events.


23 March 2021
11 May 2021
13 April 2021
18 May 2021

Postcoloniale provenance research at Weltmuseum Wien

The collection Emmerich Billitzer

Nadja Haumberger (Curator for the Sub-Saharan Africa Collection/Project Manager) in conversation with Dominik Spörker (Project Staff). The project presentation took place within the framework of the Provenance Research Day 2021.

In 1884/85, the frigate doctor Emmerich Billitzer "collected" objects for the then Imperial and Royal Court Museum of Natural History during the training voyage of the H. M. Corvette Frundsberg to East Africa. Today, the ethnographic objects from this voyage, which was commissioned by the Imperial-Royal War Ministry, are in the depot of the Weltmuseum Wien.


Stories of Traumatic Pasts digital erleben

As part of the special exhibition Stories of Traumatic Pasts, an opening and a symposium  took place in 2020. Both were recorded on video. You can now rewatch the events on our Youtube channel.

Playlist for the opening event of Stories auf Traumatic Pasts

Playlist for the symposium Stories of Traumatic Pasts

Playlist artist talks

The Quetzal feather headdress

The Quetzal feather headdress

Also incorporated into the exhibition is the renowned ancient Mexican feather headdress on show in the permanent collection of the Weltmuseum Wien, which comprises hundreds of long quetzal feathers and over a thousand small gold plates. This precious headdress is the only one of its kind to have survived. Between 2010 and 2012 a collaborative project brought together Mexican and Austrian scientists and scholars who carried out comprehensive research on its history and a thorough cleaning and restoration of the artefact.

Mehr information about the heather headdress and its history can be found here.

Información en español

Los Aztecas en el Weltmuseum Wien

El Weltmuseum Wien presenta, a partir del 15 de octubre de 2020, una exposición sobre el arte y la cultura legendarios de los aztecas. La completa exhibición ofrece a las personas que la visiten, por primera vez, la posibilidad de conocer a los aztecas en su contexto cultural general.

La exposición comienza con la periferia del Imperio azteca (ca. 1430–1521) y la diversidad natural y cultural de México, aproximándose después al interior del imperio y a su capital, Tenochtitlán, que actuaba como plataforma, así como centro religioso y cultural del imperio. Después de pasar por el palacio del emperador Moctezuma, el (la) visitante se adentra en lo más interior del imperio: el recinto sagrado con el Templo Mayor.

Entre otras cosas, la exposición se complementa con el penacho del México antiguo, de fama mundial, que forma parte de la exposición permanente del Weltmuseum Wien, formado por cientos de largas plumas de quetzal y más de mil plaquitas de oro. Este penacho es el único en su género que se ha conservado. Entre 2010 y 2012 se desarrolló un proyecto de cooperación entre México y Austria, en cuyo marco se realizaron completas investigaciones sobre su historia; su limpieza y conservación requirieron un gran esfuerzo.

La exposición especial Aztecas fue una creación del Linden-Museum de Stuttgart en cooperación con el Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen de los Países Bajos y el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) de México. Se celebró en 2019/20 en Stuttgart y después de su parada en Viena, a partirde junio de 2021 podrá verse en el Museum Volkenkunde de Leiden (Países Bajos).

Aquí se puede econtrar mas información sobre la exposición.

Accompanying programme

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