The greatest museum ad of all time?

I think this might be the greatest museum ad of all time – it’s from the 2008-2009 season at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, a superlative institution which I’ve written about before.

Poster for the Jewish Museum Vienna. The photograph is shot from within the building: a man peers in through the glass doors of the museum. Details of the museum's locations are included along with the museum logo.

Rather than present Austria’s Jewish community or Jewish material culture as the object of mainstream scrutiny or fascination, it focusses on the sense of wonder and discovery that visitors to the museum will experience.

I love that a minority identity within a nation, especially one with as fraught a history as that of Austrian Jews, refused to be exoticised or presented as ‘the Other’ in the museum space, and instead turned the tables on the Austrian mainstream with this neat image.

The museum has a great record as an institution which treats a rich, harrowing, and difficult history with verve, courage, and creativity. This includes the work of their marketing team as well as their excellent curation and events.

The 2008-9 ad demonstrates how the ways in which an institution markets itself to the world can be as sophisticated, political, and compelling as anything done with that institution’s spaces, services, or collections.

Check out the Jewish Museum Vienna, one of the greatest cultural institutions I’ve ever visited, online: http://www.jmw.at/en

Thanks to the archive team at the Jewish Museum for locating the image based on my vague memories of seeing this ad a decade ago…

What did you see? Where to next?

Well, what did you see this year? Where did you go, and where do you want to go next?

2018 has been eventful for me, with lots of travel and some big projects.

(That doesn’t mean I found no time to read; you can see some of my favourite books from the last 12 months in this blog post).

This year I got to some places I’d never been before, as well as revisiting others that have long been important to me.

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Stopping to Start: Allowing for Creation

I visited Vienna’s superlative Jewish Museum on my recent trip to the city. Their exhibitions and programmes are always sharp, relevant, and thoughtfully curated.

Currently, they’re hosting an exhibition on Kabbalah, the esoteric branch of Judaism which has been popularised by various celebrities from David Bowie to Madonna.

I wandered round, learned a little, and made some unexpected connections as well.

bowie.jpg

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We The Humanities: Interview with Matti Bunzl, Vienna Museum

This week you can find me over at @wethehumanities, a rotating Twitter account where people working in the humanities get to share ideas, experiences, and stories. I’m using my week to talk about the grey areas between fact and fiction, dream and experience, stories and everyday life – as well as people who cross back and forth over the walls of universities and academic institutions.

One such person is Matti Bunzl, a personal hero of mine. Back when I was a postgraduate studying Austrian identity and refugees from the Nazis, Bunzl was an brave and innovative Chicago-based anthropologist whose careful, critical works captured the ways in which Austria had manipulated the representation of its past.

Today, Bunzl is director of the Wien Museum in Vienna: a triumphant step in his ongoing adventures in history and anthropology. He agreed to answer a few questions for my @wethehumanities session. Read more