Information

The Aztecs

15 October 2020 to 13 April 2021

From 15 October 2020 the 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.

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.

Conceived in close collaboration with Mexican archaeologists and scholars, the exhibition presents the results and findings of recent research and excavations.

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.

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.

Contact
Nina Auinger-Sutterlüty, MAS
Mag. Sarah Aistleitner
info.pr@weltmuseumwien.at
T +43 1 525 24 - 4021
or +43 1 525 24 - 4025

Press texts

Press texts

Press release (pdf, 741 KB)
The Feather Headdress (pdf, 90 KB)
Recent finds (pdf, 26 KB)
Aztec food (pdf, 25 KB)
Sacrificial rituals (pdf, 26 KB)

Comunicados de prensa

Comunicados de prensa

Press photos

Press photos

Quetzal-feather headdress (jpg, 390 KB)

Feathers of the quetzal, cotinga, roseate spoonbill, squirrel cuckoo, kingfisher; wood, reed chips, fibres, paper, cotton, leather, gold, brass
H: 130 cm, W: 178 cm
Mexico, Aztec, around 1520 AD
KHM-Museumsverband, Weltmuseum Wien, Inv. no. 10.402
© KHM-Museumsverband

Mictlantecuhtli (jpg, 557 KB)

Ceramic, pigment
H: 176 cm; W: 80 cm; D: 50 cm
Mexico, Aztec, Late Period, between 1430 and 1502;
found in the “House of Eagles” as one of two almost identical sculptures
Museo del Templo Mayor, Mexico City, D.R. Secretaría de Cultura – INAH, Inv. no. 10-264984
© D.R. Archivo Digital de las Colecciones del Museo
Nacional de Antropología, Secretaría de Cultura –
INAH

Brazier, water and fertility goddess Chalchiuhtlicue (jpg, 711 KB)

Ceramic, pigment
H: 55.2 cm; W: 64.3 cm; D: 49.4 cm
Central Mexico, Aztec, late period, early 16th century;
discovered near the sacred district of Tlatelolco
Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, D.R.
Secretaría de Cultura – INAH, Inv. no. 10-1125
© D.R. Archivo Digital de las Colecciones del Museo
Nacional de Antropología, Secretaría de Cultura –
INAH

Greenstone figurine with calendar signs (jpg, 673 KB)

Serpentine
H: 34 cm; W: 17.5 cm; D: 7 cm
Mexico, Teotihuacan, 250 –750 A.D.,
re-worked by Aztec artists
Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg, Inv. no. FSB 264
© Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg, Foto: Paul
Schimweg

Greenstone figurine with calendar signs (detail) (jpg, 1 MB)

Serpentine
H: 34 cm; W: 17.5 cm; D: 7 cm
Mexico, Teotihuacan, 250 –750 A.D.,
re-worked by Aztec artists
Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg, Inv. no. FSB 264
© Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg, Foto: Paul
Schimweg

Bird head mask (jpg, 679 KB)

Wood, turquoise, spondylus shell, resin, mother-of-pearl, malachite
L: 29 cm; W: 15.5 cm; H: 13.5 cm
Mexico, Aztec, between ca. 1350 and 1521 AD
Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha. Inv. no. Eth7R
© Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha

Skull mask (jpg, 529 KB)

Human skull, flint, sea shell, pyrite
H: 19 cm; D: 13 cm
Mexico, Aztec, 15th century; discovered within
the Templo Mayor, ofrenda no. 11
Museo del Templo Mayor, Mexico City, D.R.
Secretaría de Cultura – INAH, Inv. no. 10-162934
© Gliserio Castañeda, D.R. Secretaría de Cultura –
INAH

Eagle’s head (jpg, 706 KB)

Stone
H: ca. 100 cm; W: ca. 120 cm
Mexico, from the area of Tehuacán, Puebla, Mexico;
Aztec, between ca. 1350 and 1521 AD; Discovered at the foot of a mountain
Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels, Inv. no. AAM 69.11
© Royal Museum of Arts and History, Brüssel

Staff or statue attachment (jpg, 660 KB)

Wood, turquoise, spondylus shell, resin, mother-of-pearl, malachite
H: 29 cm; W: 12 cm; D: 17 cm
Mexico, Aztec, between ca. 1350 and 1521 AD
National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, Inv. no. ODIh.41
© National Museum of Denmark, Roberto Fortune

Stamp, monkey (jpg, 292 KB)

Ceramic
H: 5.3 cm; W: 4.5 cm; D: 3.5 cm
Mexico, Aztec, between ca. 1350 and 1521 AD
Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen
Coll. no. RV-2971-57;
© Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen
Coll.no. RV-2971-57

Pulque beaker (jpg, 669 KB)

Phyllite
H: 37 cm; D: 18 cm; D: 26 cm
Mexico, Aztec, beginning of the 16th century
KHM-Museumsverband, Weltmuseum Wien, Inv. no. 6.069
© KHM-Museumsverband

Carrier figure (jpg, 772 KB)

Volcanic stone, pigment
H: 78.5 cm; B: 34.5 cm; D: 26 cm
Mexico, Tlaxcala, 1000–1500 AD
KHM-Museumsverband, Weltmuseum Wien, Inv. no.
59.144
© KHM-Museumsverband

Cuauhxicalli (Eagle Bowl), sacrificial bowl (jpg, 3 MB)

Stone
H: 6.5 cm; D: 16 cm
Mexico, Aztec, around 1500 AD
KHM-Museumsverband, Weltmuseum Wien, Inv. no. 59.896
© KHM-Museumsverband

Jewel in the shape of a heart (jpg, 832 KB)

Gold
H: 4.1 cm; W: 2.6 cm; D: 0.1 cm
Mexico, Aztec, Late Period, early 16th century;
discovered within an ofrenda at the Templo Mayor
Museo del Templo Mayor, Mexico City, D.R. Secretaría
de Cultura – INAH, Inv. no. 10-654079
© Jorge Pérez de Lara, D.R. Secretaría de Cultura –
INAH

Coyote or young wolf (jpg, 738 KB)

Basalt
H: 39.8 cm; B: 21 cm; T: 23.3 cm
Mexico, Aztec, between ca. 1350 and 1521 AD
Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, D.R.
Secretaría de Cultura – INAH, Inv. no. 10 47
© D.R. Archivo Digital de las Colecciones del Museo
Nacional de Antropología, Secretaría de Cultura –
INAH

Sculpture in the shape of a snake (jpg, 2 MB)

Stone
H: 34 cm; W: 23 cm; D: 30 cm
Mexico, Aztec, between ca. 1350 and 1521 AD
Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg,
Inv. no. B3637
© Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg, Foto: Paul
Schimweg

The excavations by Manuel Gamio and the discovery of the Templo Mayor in 1914 (jpg, 773 KB)

© Proyecto Templo Mayor, Photo: Anonym

Dedicatory offering box found under the Tlaltecuhtli monolith (jpg, 2 MB)

© Proyecto Templo Mayor, Photo: Jesús López

The Wall of Skulls, Huei Tzompantli (jpg, 1 MB)

© Photo: Oliver Santana

View of the excavations of the Temple of Ehecatl- Quetzalcoatl (jpg, 1 MB)

© Photo: Raúl Barrera Rodríguez

Monolithic stone sculpture of the goddess Coyolxauhqui on the platform of building stage IVb of the Templo Mayor (jpg, 1 MB)

© Proyecto Templo Mayor, Colour reconstruction: Michelle De Anda and Fernando Carrizosa

The construction phases of the Templo Mayor, Phase I, 1325–1375  (jpg, 1 MB)

© Grafik: www.latinamericanstudies.org

Exhibition view (jpg, 731 KB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 1 MB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 1 MB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

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© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

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© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 650 KB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 815 KB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 778 KB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 847 KB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 677 KB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 1 MB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 828 KB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Exhibition view (jpg, 1 MB)

© Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

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