Weltmuseum Wien

Entertainment & Arts

Europe, Austria, Vienna

The Museum of Ethnology (German: Museum für Völkerkunde) in Vienna is the largest anthropological museum in Austria, established in 1876. It currently resides in the Hofburg Imperial Palace and houses a quarter million ethnographical and archaeological objects from Asia, Africa, Oceania, and America. Important collections include Mexican artifacts, with unique Aztec featherwork; part of James Cook's collection of Polynesia and Northwest Coast art (purchased in 1806); numerous Benin bronzes; the collection of Charles von Hügel from India, Southeast Asia, and China; the contents of a museum created to house the collections form the Austrian Brazil Expedition; artifacts collected during the circumnavigation of the globe by the SMS Novara; and two of the remaining rongorongo tablets. The museum's most famous piece is a feathered headdress believed to have belonged to Moctezuma, the last Aztec emperor, which has created friction between the Mexican and the Austrian governments. Although taken from Mexico as war booty by the Spanish in the 16th century, Austria acquired it legally from France in 1880. The Museum of Ethnology is not to be confused with the Austrian Folklore Museum, (the Österreichisches Museum für Volkskunde), which has a similar name in German but concentrates on European artifacts.