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Weltmuseum Wien - Set

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Technical details
  • 18.10.2017
  • Regina Simon
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  • Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V
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About Weltmuseum Wien

On 25th October the Weltmuseum Wien will reopen following an extensive redesign. To mark this occasion, Austrian Post is dedicating a commemorative stamp to the museum with its rich history.The Weltmuseum Wien is regarded as one of the most important ethnological museums in the world. The origins of the Museum reach back to 1806, when the purchase of part of the “Cook Collection” spurred the establishment of a separate k.u.k ethnographic collection in the Imperial Natural History Cabinet (Hofnaturalienkabinett). Starting in 1876 the collection was administered by the Anthropological-Ethnographical Department of the Natural History Museum. Then, in 1928, this department opened as a Museum for Ethnology in the main building of the Neue Burg. In 2013 the museum changed its name to the Weltmuseum Wien, nowadays being a member of the KHM-Museumsverband. In autumn 2014 the doors of the museum were closed to enable a redesign and corresponding renovations. The newly designed display collection will be the centrepiece of the new museum. Fourteen rooms will house the core collections of the Weltmuseum Wien, which will be displayed and interpreted from a contemporary perspective. The individual rooms will be dedicated to themes such as colonialism, the history of Japan in Vienna’s World Fair of 1873 or the ethnographic collections of three young Habsburgs.The design on the commemorative stamp shows a feather bust of a Hawaiian deity which was acquired in around 1779 during the third circumnavigation of the globe by the British sailor James Cook. It probably represents the god of war Ku (Kuka’ilimoku: “He who attacks the land”) from the Kamehameha dynasty of Hawaii in the 18th century. When war broke out over an island, the head of the deity (ki’i hula manu) would be placed on a long stick and carried into battle as a sign of power or its support would be invoked in competitions. The approximately 55 centimetre-high feather bust is made of a woven trellis of split aerial roots from a climbing plant. Red feathers from a tree creeper were woven into the network of plant fibres which overlay this, although only remnants of these survive. The eyes are fashioned from mother of pearl and kukui nuts, the eyebrows from black feathers. The wide mouth contains 49 sharpened dogs’ canine teeth in the upper jaw and 48 in the lower jaw, which gives the mouth a particularly fearsome appearance. Together with other works of art collected during Cook's journey around the world, this feather bust was purchased for the Viennese Natural History Cabinet at the instigation of Emperor Francis I. The natural scientist Baron Leopold von Fichtel was able to buy it at an auction in London in 1806.The Weltmuseum Wien sees itself as an archive containing documents on the cultural diversity of humanity and changes in world cultures. Through its work on cultural differences and common features, it makes an important contribution towards understanding a multi-cultural world.