Tracking Johann Natterer through Space and Time
Until the early 19th century, Brazil was something of a terra incognita for Europeans. Following the marriage of Archduchess Leopoldine to Dom Pedro, the Portuguese crown prince, in 1817, Austria sent a scientific expedition to Brazil to study the country’s people, flora and fauna. Johann Natterer (1787–1843) joined the expedition as a zoologist, travelling the country a total of eighteen years. As he died young and most of his notes were destroyed in a fire at Hofburg Palace in 1848 leaving most of his collection
and scientific work long overlooked.
Thanks to his efforts the Museum of Ethnology houses the world’s most important ethnographic collection on early 19th century Brazil. Comprising over 2400 objects, it is among the most important of its kind but is little-known to the general public. The exhibition "Beyond Brazil“ presents the first comprehensive survey of these fascinating collections and offers much more than a mere historical summary. The objects are placed in different contexts and linked to contemporary topics such as globalization, the destruction of cultural diversity, cultural memory and changing cultures.