The new permanent exhibition of the GRASSI Museum of Ethnography, under the motto “Trips Around One World”, begins by covering the regions of Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Siberia, Europe, and the Middle East. It continues with North Africa on the second floor, leading the viewer through Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Oceania, and Australia. The exhibition is structured according to continent or macro-geographical region. The two levels cover an area totalling 4,200 square meters.
The exhibits in the Southeast Asia section not only show the differences and relationships between selected cultures and ethnic groups, but also the aesthetic sensibilities and artistic skills of each. The South Asia section focuses on Sri Lanka and the Indian subcontinent, as well as the cultures of the indigenous peoples of these regions. The section on Mongolians and Tibetans introduces a cultural area that starts in the southern slopes of the Himalayans and its foothills. Two common features of the region are the Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhism and nomadic pastoralism. The East Asia section of China and Japan reflects and questions our common misconception of this region.
The part Central Asia and the Middle East, under the motto “Cultures in Dialogue”, depicts the every-day life and cooperation of various ethnic and religious affiliations in the region. It emphasises the interaction between the nomadic and the resident population in Central Asia. For a long time, East and South Africa were regarded by Europeans as a secret El Dorado. The “Empire of Priest King John” and “King Solomon‘s Mines” have often been associated with this region. In the stone buildings of Zimbabwe and the once flourishing trade centres of the East Coast, visitors can trace these legends. In the exhibition one will encounter bushmen and nomadic herdsmen such as the Zulu, Massai, and Herero. Most impressive is the collection of numerous masks of the East African Makonde.
The America section conveys the diversity of not only native cultures. It also depicts African-American cultures of the South by holding the focus on religion and integration. The section Australia and Oceania demonstrates both the diversity of traditional indigenous cultures with regard to their living area and their problems and perspectives in our time.
In 2004, the museum received a collection of the foundation Collection Dr. Bir on permanent loan. This collection of oriental jewellery contains 3,000 pieces. A part of these precious trinkets are presented in a special cabinet exhibition, though many pieces have been included in relevant parts of the permanent exhibition.
8 / 6 EUR; GRASSI komplett (all 3 GRASSI museums) 15 / 12 EUR
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