The long-term goal of the Technisches Museum Wien is to identify all non-European objects from colonial contexts in the collections and the archive and communicate them.
As part of a project series funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Arts and Culture, Civil Service and Sport (BMKOES), the Technisches Museum Wien – together with the Weltmuseum Wien, the Natural History Museum Vienna (NHM) and the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) – is exploring its collection and archival holdings with a colonial background.
In 2020/21, the research project of the Technisches Museum Wien was dedicated to exploring raw materials from colonial contexts – such as rubber, coffee and cocoa. Raw materials are important testaments to the European history of economics, trade and knowledge, allow conclusions about potential exploitative relationships and exemplify objects from colonial contexts in European museums of technology.
The main areas of research in 2022/23 are related to historical transportation projects that are documented in the museum’s archive and library – such as the construction of the Otavi railway line in Namibia or the construction of the Suez Canal based on Negrelli’s bequest preserved at the museum. A closer look is taken at not only the exploitation, enslavement and resistance of the local population, but also the so far largely neglected interplay between colonialism and ecology.
Other central aspects of the research projects include developing an anti-racist vocabulary for museums, reflecting on the function and effect of reception objects in technical and everyday historical collections, critically examining visual and presentation concepts in anti-racist exhibitions as well as professional networking as part of the Decolonial Summer School at the Technisches Museum Wien.