150th anniversary of World Exhibition: Natural History Museum Vienna launches new social media series

25. May 2023
The 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna has left its imprint on the collections of the Natural History Museum (NHM) Vienna. On the occasion of the World Fair’s 150th anniversary, the NHM Vienna has launched a social media series designed to present in the coming weeks highlights from the holdings of related written documents, images from the archives and objects from the fields of mineralogy, zoology and botany on the Museum’s digital channels.
The collections of the NHM Vienna boast a wide variety of items relating to the 1873 World Exhibition, including documents and images in the science history archives, prints and books in the Museum’s libraries, skeletons of extinct birds, salt obelisks and graphites as well as botanical or zoological objects from far away countries.
In addition to collection items, the history of the building itself also echoes the links between the World Exhibition and the Museum. Carl von Hasenauer (1833–1894), leading architect of the World Exhibition, also masterminded the architectural designs for the building housing the Natural History Museum on Vienna’s Ringstrasse boulevard. For both projects, construction started in 1871. Next to Hasenauer, the first director of the NHM, Ferdinand von Hochstetter (1829–1884), was also involved in the planning processes for both the World Exhibition and the new museum building. As a collector of beetles and butterflies, Cajetan von Felder (1814–1894), the mayor of Vienna in office in 1873, also had close ties with the natural history collection.
Mario-Dominik Riedl, MA, who is in charge of the historical image and photo collections at the NHM Vienna’s Archive for the History of Science, screened the various collections for items shown at the 1873 World Exhibition in order to mark the anniversary. His research unearthed several unique finds, most of them in storage and not accessible to museum visitors. These items are now showcased on the Museum’s Facebook and Instagram channels!

The highlights on show include preliminary sketches for the watercolour Gletscherphänomene by Friedrich Simony (1813–1896) – the original has been lost –, the desert plant Welwitschia mirabilis, known to have grown on Earth for 112 million years, the skeleton of a Moa bird, which is now extinct, stalagmites measuring 2.5 metres and a Siberian graphite, “Schwarzenberg beavers” from the princely beaver colony, as well as photographs from the Isbjörn expedition (1872), taken in the polar region and displayed at the World Exhibition.

The contributions can be found on the NHM Vienna’s channels every Wednesday until July 2023:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Naturhistorisches.Museum.Wien
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nhmwien
© NHM Wien
© NHM Wien
© NHM Wien