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Weltmuseum Wien for an Imperial View on World Cultures - History and Culture in a Great Presentation

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Come with us to the Weltmuseum Wien to see the Montezuma Crown and a lot more from all over the world, together with an imperial hunting and armoury exhibition and a musical instrument show!

Moctezuma II's headdress, an object of  fight between Mexico and Austria for ownership
Moctezuma's headdress

Would you like to see how the world lived in far away countries before? The Viennese Weltmuseum is you place boasting a fantastic collection of cultural objects from all over the world in a permanent exhibition of World in Motion and Shadow of Colonialism.

Originally known as Museum of Ethnology, the museum is today part of the Hofburg castle where it occupies three floors with over 200,000 objects from all over the world including a unique Aztec headdress, part of James Cook’s collection of Polynesian art, a great collection of Benin bronzes, collections from Brazil, China, India, Southeast Asia and much more. The most famous item on show is a feathered headdress that is claimed to have belonged to Moctezuma II, the Aztec emperor at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The Mexican Government is still claiming that it should be returned to Mexico as part of their national heritage.

The early “Art and Wonders Chamber” started as a collection Archduke Ferdinand II that he kept in a castle in Innsbruck. After a world tour of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1892/93, the collections were combined and installed in the Hofburg Imperial Palace and eventually, the Museum of Ethnology was opened in 1928. After being renamed to Weltmuseum in 2013, the museum was completely renovated 2013-2015.

Apparently, Prince Metternich, also remembered in history as Prince Mitternacht, said once that “Asia begins to the south-east of Vienna” and today, in an opposite sense to what the Prince meant, the museum dedicates a good deal of thought to being a place for the questions of our time and reflecting historical development and the wrongdoings of the western world in the rest of the world with a number of examples, e.g. the late 19th and early 20th century Kulturkampf (culture war) that the Catholic Church waged against the godless modern world with their “scientific” support of the social teachings of the church, not to mention the domination of most of the world by European powers between 1500 and mid 1900’s.

There is a publicly accessible library which serves for scientific research but is also open for anyone interested in cultural and social anthropology.

The main entrance of the Museum is accessible without steps by using a platform lift. The exhibition area on the Ground Floor and the galleries of the permanent exhibition on the first floor are fully accessible with a lift.

There are accessible toilets next to the café on the Ground Floor, at the entrance to the gallery In the Shadow of Colonialism in the first floor, and in the event area, all nice and clean!

The Museum’s Cook café & bistro in the Hall of Columns at the entrance allows visitors to have a lunch or a drink even if you don’t buy a ticket to go to the museum, as long as you come during the museum’s opening hours.

The museum shop offers a range of stuff more or less related to the collections and exhibitions, including catalogues, jewellery as well as replicas of unique works of art.

Weltmuseum Wien

Heldenplatz, 1010 Vienna


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