In the Arabic and Islamic cultural world, the Majlis is a physical place to sit together…a place for discussion, debate, and other communal experiences. And it’s this theme of exchange and dialogue that underpins the new Majlis exhibition at Vienna’s Weltmuseum.
- Recreates the Majlis experience within the museum itself
- Illustrates the concept of cultural exchange through various intriguing artefacts
- Encourages you to engage in mutual recognition of other perspectives
- Runs from Sept 17, 2019 to Jan 7, 2020
- Just need a normal museum entrance ticket to go in
- See also: Weltmuseum visitor and ticket tips
The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue
The Majlis concept extends from the sitting room for entertaining guests in a private house all the way through to national parliaments. (For example, the Pakistani parliament is the Mājlis-e-Shūrā Pākistān.)
Organised by the Qatar-based Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum with the support of UNESCO and Shell, the The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue travelling exhibition reaches Vienna after stops in France and Malta.
The centrepoint is a Majlis itself, a rectangular seating area where visitors can sit, play board games, read, draw, and – most importantly – talk to each other. As such, the exhibition becomes a living platform for the creation of new perspectives and connections between people and cultures.
But this is only one level of cultural dialogue and exchange. After all, the exhibition’s existence reflects this very concept, thanks to the required collaboration between the Austrian and Qatari institutions. And then there are the exhibits…
Various displays surrounding the Majlis and occupying two further rooms show how cultural interchange and influence manifest in textiles and other artefacts. The selection draws from the collections of both the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum and the Weltmuseum.
So you’ll find carpets, tableware, holy texts and similar where different cultures and/or beliefs manifest in a single object. For example:
- A 17th-century Quran scroll from India with paisley patterning
- A 19th-century Turkish carpet featuring Chinese dragons
- An early 19th-century Chinese vase designed for the Islamic market that uses French floral motifs
- An Iranian carpet depicting various Hindu lords
- A 19th-century begging bowl from Egypt or Persia with both Hebrew and Arabic inscriptions
…and much more of this nature.
The combination of the exhibits and the Majlis experience itself eases you into an inevitable acceptance of diversity and mutual respect. And that’s an achievement to be celebrated.
Dates and tickets
The Majlis exhibition lasts from Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 to Tuesday, January 7th, 2020.
How to get to the Weltmuseum
The museum sits in the huge Neue Burg wing of the Hofburg palace complex in Vienna’s centre. See the main museum article for travel tips.
While you’re there, take time to enjoy the fantastic atrium and permanent exhibits. And the café/restaurant on the ground floor (accessible without a ticket) is an insider tip when looking for a quiet place to recharge your batteries while in the centre.
Address: Heldenplatz, 1010 Vienna