Provenance research

The Frundsberg/ Emerich Billitzer Collection

The project on the Frundsberg/ Emerich Billitzer collection funded by the BMKÖS is a contribution to the current debates on questions of provenance and restitution within European ethnographic museums. The collection from East Africa of the k. k. frigate doctor Billitzer was compiled in 1884/85 on behalf of the Ministry of War during the journey of S. M. Corvette Frundsberg. The project deals in detail with this complex collection history and examines the specific contexts of acquisition.

About the project

About the project

The exemplary enquiry of the Frundsberg/ Billitzer collection is a first step towards creating an acquisition network for the extensive East African collections kept in the Weltmuseum Wien. This part of the collections should be prioritized given currently discussed aspects of colonial contexts, while at the same time the number of objects reflects the complexity of ethnographic collections due to its various individual stories. In addition, the focus on the imperial royal navy and their approach to object collections also brings an essential aspect into focus for the assessment of other collectors of the Austro-Hungarian navy.

The project also sheds light on possibilities for curatorial practices when dealing with the collections of the Weltmuseum Wien and expand existing perspectives. In particular, strategies for dealing with difficult and sensitive collection contexts should be derived from the results of the research. By examining this set of objects in an exemplary manner, options for systematising provenance research are also considered.

A short report on the project available here.

November 2020 to February 2022

Project head
Mag. Nadja Haumberger

Dominik Spörker, BA BA MA

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