210610: Museum für Völkerkunde - Not a continent – but enlightenment

Museum für Völkerkunde 12.05.10 – 13.09.10 Not a continent – but enlightenment Following the museums-co-operation for the exhibition “Sitting Bull”, the Museum for Ethnology in Vienna is again co-operating with other museums – this time with its counterparts in Bonn and Berne. The exhibition “James Cook and the Discovery of the South Pacific” focuses on the merits of the three world sailing tours under the leadership of James Cook -the surveyor, navigator and cartographer (1728 – 1779) and his companions. Today one knows that enlightenment would have most probably taken a different turn without some of these new findings, which revolutionized the western view of life. This change of view is symbolized with two globes - one placed at the beginning, and one at the end, of the exhibition. And they differ greatly from each other: one of them didn’t yet include the southern continent. The first journey’s official mission was to observe Venus’ passage, but there was also a secret mission: to discover the (presumed) southern continent. The “discovery” of the non-existence of the terra australis incognita was sensational. The “preparation” of the “curiosities”, the material legacy of the journeys in addition to the evaluation and publication, took two (!) centuries to assemble. The award-winning exhibition catalogue offers lots of details and is highly recommendable. The exhibition centres on a treasure of the Museum of Ethnology, which was neglected by the public until now. Thanks to the interest in ethnology of Emperor Franz I, the museum owns the second largest Cook-collection in the world - many of the collection's essential pieces were acquired at an auction in England in 1806. Among the members of the English crew were “sea dogs” as well as international scientists; a combination, which proved that networking among scholars was already a given at that time - and the success speaks for itself. Botanists, astrologists and artists among Cook's crew created the lasting South Pacific image. 140 of the 955 botanical and 337 zoological drawings made by the painter Sydney Parkinson during the first journey still exist. The landscape painter William Hodges created the so-called “landing painting”: a kind of propaganda tool. The profiles of the coastline were meant to be recognizable for seafarers. The events were idealised and narrated with classic captions - the majority of the 40 paintings were created in a London studio; the 40 landscape and boat drawings as well as the 50 portrait and figure sketches during the second journey. The Swiss painter John Webber joined the third journey and created 3,330 drawings and 20 oil paintings. The Bernese owe their collection to him. By Maria-Gabriela Marinkowic Museum für Völkerkunde 1010 Vienna, Neue Burg Tel: + 43 1 525 24 404 Fax: +43 1 525 24 371 Email: infro@ethno-museum.ac.at http:www.ethno-museum.ac.at Opening hours: daily except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Weltmuseum Wien
1010 Wien, Neue Burg
Tel: +43 1 534 30 – 5052
Email: info@weltmuseumwien.at
Öffnungszeiten: täglich außer Dienstag 10-18 Uhr

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