20 July 2014

The Globe Museum in Vienna

Last March, I found myself in Vienna, for a long weekend. It was a relatively short visit, being a rather spontaneous one, so I just flew in Friday evening, couchsurfed with a local, and flew back Sunday evening. Since I already visited Vienna 9 years ago, I wasn't too keen on seeing the sights. However, we still did some sight-seeing, but we went to the atypical places, so to speak. This time, we went to the Globe Museum, which is part of the Austrian National Library, and is the only museum in the world dedicated to three-dimensional representations of the earth.

I have to say that I loved this place. It was very educational. Perhaps, the most educational thing I learned was on the history of globe making. Apparently, back in the days, globes aren't just single objects. It always came in pairs. There was the terrestrial globe (which is the globe, as we typically know it), as well as the celestial globe, representing the stars and the constellations that are visible depending where in the sky one looks. Hence, you see globes mapping out stars and their neighbors. Apparently, back in the days, when you want a globe, you buy a pair, not only a terrestrial one, but a celestial one as well.

The globes depicted above all are celestial globes. Some of them just plot the location of the stars, while others actually depict animals that are supposedly the constellations that are built by the stars. I never really saw the logic behind constellations, because these are just groupings of stars as seen from earth, not necessarily on whether they are close or far apart in an absolute sense. Oh well. By the way, have you found where the moon globe is?

Of course, there are plenty of terrestrial globes, as the above pictures depict. The majority of the globes in the exhibit date before the 19th century, which makes for an interesting time-travel: you can see the evolution of people's knowledge regarding geography, as well as the various historical events that made country boundaries change over time.

If ever you are in Vienna, and you have been there before, try visiting this place. I've already been to the Schonbrunn Palace, as well as the other major sights in the city. So I decided to visit a relatively unknown sight. It turned out to be a very educational visit.