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Technique or culture: cross-history of ethnology and decorative arts museums in Vienna and Hamburg, 1860-1900



ID: <10.3406/hista.2008.3227>·DOI: <10.3406/hista.2008.3227>


Technical or Culture : A Comparative History of the Museums of Ethnology and Decorative Arts of Vienna and Hamburg, 1860-1900 In this paper, the author examines the relation between decorative arts museums and ethnology museums basing herself on the history of the museums of Vienna and Hamburg. Despite obvious differences, these museums have enough points in common to make a comparison pertinent. Her starting point is the place of extra-European collections in decorative arts museums. In the late nineteenth century, many museums extended their collections to include extra-European work, particularly works from Asia. The fact that decorative arts museums and ethnology museums were created at the same time, that they both belonged to new areas of study, and that they often displayed a very similar approach to objects also justifies this process of comparison. The histories of the museums of Vienna and Hamburg, among other examples, enable the author to study in a concrete way the unexpected affinities between two fields and two types of institutions, which today have clearly drifted apart.

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