Inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to the South Pacific, I took myself on a more budget-friendly holiday to the tropical locale with a visit to the Museum für Völkerkunde, one of the many art museums I can frequent at will with my Jahreskarte. We don’t quite have one of these museums in DC, although maybe the Sackler comes the closest.  Paris has the Musee du Quai Branly, a superbly arranged museum of cultures with spectacular lighting, but I think I like Vienna’s a little more.

As it goes, museum settings in the former Imperial capital are usually worth the visit alone, and this one in Neue Burg does not fail to impress. The top floor was closed to visitors, so I was left to wonder why the horses were staring at me. Perhaps they are excited for the start of the Vienna Masters Horse Tournament this weekend? They are certainly dressed for an outing!

The South Pacific galleries house a meticulous collection from the German Ethnologist Otto Finch. I was impressed with the thoroughness of his recordings, and with the display of items.  Kudos to the curator for making this an interesting and worthwhile visit.



I did have to laugh at how this headpiece profile reminded me of Beavis. Or Butthead. Not that I watch the show.
As a bonus, the Himalayas countries gallery could easily be a short course on Far East religions and cultures. While I still can not fully extract the nuances of Taoism from Shamanism from Sri Lankan Buddhism, I did leave the museum feeling a little more knowledgeable.
These Buddhist affectations are made of clay, to remind followers of the dissolution of material things.


Taoism, and its elaborate ways for understanding the world and the cosmos.
A representative Shaman feast.

Part of a funereal presentation for a Shinto widow, including a paper automobile and washing machine, to let her know that she will not be alone.

Thai palaces of spirits.

Humans in sacrifice.

Ho Chi Minh altar.

Puppetry is also a large part of Vietnamese culture, as seen in this dragonboat display.

A Burmese Buddha.

I look forward to the restoration of the remainder of the museum. There’s still Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Siberia, and insular Southeast Asia to explore!