Vienna Art Week 2011

plaster sculpture - 174x129x16 mm

Things That Talk

                                                                                              image © Iulian Moise

prank fossil found 1881 by Josef Szombathy - at that time an assistant at the k.u.k. Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna - while carrying out the first systematic excavations at the Johann von und zu Liechtenstein cave [Mladeč Cave]. Such finds are of course not unheard of, but this specific item intrigued Szombathy, so he decided to preserve it in the archive of the Freunde des Naturalienkabinetts.

*The items exhibited on the central staircase of the Museum of Natural History Vienna have been selected from the long-standing collection of the Friends of the Natural History Cabinet Association. The initiator of the first soireÅLes in the mid-eighteenth century is said to be the illustrious Emperor Franz I (Franz Stephan of Lorraine) himself, whose private Natural History Cabinet is considered to be the origin of the Museum of Natural History. In pursuit of new scientific insights, the Emperor gathered a circle of like-minded amateur collectors and well-known experts, forming an association with the aim to present and create a discussion around current research. Members of the club started to collect objects that were of special interest to their discussions. Over the following decades, this compilation of items seems to have grown more in peculiarity than in number, which is why it has been suggested that parts of the collection have gone lost. Also, rumour has it, in the years it has been stored and almost forgotten in the cellar of the museum, some items have been assumed part of the collection, which were not previously included. The social tradition of the Friends of the Natural History Cabinet Association continues still today, with current members holding regular meetings in the form of a dinner at the museum each week. For this current exhibition selected items from the association’s collection were prepared for display by the Art & Science class / University of Applied Arts Vienna in collaboration with the Friends of the Natural History Cabinet Association*

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