Friday, 22 August 2008

Globe Museum in Vienna, Austria

It’s hard to get anything more wholesome than globes, and there are absolutely hundreds of them in the Austrian National Library. Once a private collection, it has now ballooned across an entire floor, and walking in is quite surreal. It’s almost as if someone has gone to the drawing room of every fictional Victorian detective commandeering their globes, then bundled them all willy-nilly into massive glass cabinets. There are 420 of them in total, and just when you think it’s all over, there’s another room with an even higher concentration.
As all good bizarre museums should be, it is ludicrously over-detailed and answers questions you’d never even thought of asking. Has anyone ever seriously thought about how globes are made? Well here you can find out as interactive screens painstakingly go through the process, step by step.
The whole place gives a peek of a whole new world that most of us never knew existed. Making globes is part art, part craft, part science, and old, highly-styled ones are worth a fortune. They date back to 360BC, and a few makers are revered as artists (despite getting countries in the wrong place and covering up parts they didn’t know all that much about with pictures of lions).
One from 1541 is fabulously inaccurate, and we know because an actual map has been superimposed on top of it. Half of Africa is in the Indian Ocean, Jerusalem is in Sudan, New Delhi is where Arabia should be and Tokyo has been transported to Mongolia. Australia, of course, hadn’t been discovered by that time, and is conveniently replaced by a few sea monsters.

Getting to the Globe Museum in Vienna

Nearest international airport: Vienna International Airport.
Using public transport: The Globe Museum at the Austrian National Library can be found in the Palais Mollard, near the Herrengasse U-Bahn station.

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