Exhibiting the Austro-Hungarian Empire: The Austrian Museum for Folk Culture in Vienna, 1895-1925

Julia Thorpe


The Austrian Museum for Folk Culture (Österreichisches Museum für Volkskunde) was established in 1895 in Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Initially founded as ‘monument of a state of nations [Völkerstaat]’ it acted on and facilitated larger imperial projects of statecraft, war and international diplomacy that spanned the Empire and its displacement in the interwar period (Schmidt 1960: 29). While much of the Museum’s collection was acquired in the years before the Empire’s collapse in 1918, I argue that it was only in the Empire’s afterlife that the Museum was able to perform its memory work for an entombed ‘state of nations’. The Museum projected this site of imperial memory initially onto a post-imperial pan-European map and then, following the rise of German nationalism in Germany and Austria, onto a pan-German vision of empire and nationhood.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Julia Thorpe

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360