The Viennese Thailand Project
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The Project

2. Implementation and Workflow

1. Inventory list compilation of all objects with origin in Thailand
The collections of the Austrian Museum of Ethnology are not primarily ordered by countries (nation states) but according to continents and cultural areas within these continents. Therefore the first project task is to compile an inventory list of all objects with origin in Thailand (or rather Siam). This will be queried from the museums database and the historical inventory registers.

2. Locating and checking all objects from Thailand in the storage
The storage location of most objects is documented in a database. Though some objects may have lost the attached inventory number in the course of the museum's history. Since the purpose of these attached numbers is an identification marking, the origin of these objects with lost numbers is ambiguous. Therefore, we will make attempts to identify these objects lacking marked numbers and with obscured origin by means of the object's descriptions in the historical inventory registers. In cases where such an identification is not possible, the objects will be compared with other objects of similar or related type (in our museum, in the academic literature and/or museum's collections in Thailand) in order to determine a new (and state-of the-art) classification and inventory.

3. Taking digital pictures of all objects
The total stock of objects from Thailand (or rather Siam) will be photographed digitally and the photos compiled in a picture database. Therewith the written information in the inventory registers shall be complemented by visual information, in order to facilitate subsequent researches - also outside the museums storage. Thus the objects of the collections also could be showcased and discussed outside the Museum of Ethnology, for instance in other research institutions.

4. Rearranging / optimization the storage of the collections
The objects located in the storage rooms of the Southeast Asia Department are only in parts systematically ordered by countries and functional types. In the course of this project the objects with origin in Thailand (Siam) will be separated from those originating from other Southeast Asian countries and subsequently rearranged by functional/formal types and other logical criteria. The storage will be optimized in terms of conservation.

5. Restoration of damaged objects
Because of material fatigue, not all of the collections objects have endured the (sometimes more than 100 years lasting) custody in the museum undamaged. Since a professional restoration is connected with a high work load and expenditures, the restoration of individual objects will be possible only by external sponsorships.

6. Review and reappraisal of the recorded information relating to the objects
All objects which were included in the museums collection are registered in the inventory books. Each individual object was provided with a consecutive number and recorded by the curator with the following basic information: Name, description, measure, origin, collectors name, date of inventory and (on occasion) data concerning the original usage. The quality of these records in the historic inventory books is varying: it depended on the available information sources and the respective curator's state of knowledge. The principal weakness in the early records is the lack of information concerning the original cultural context of the collected items. By means of this project all these information (from the simple object's name to the original usage and cultural context) shall be revised and complemented according to state-of-the-art knowledge and standards. In this process, the involvement of academics (and layman informants) from Thailand is an important integral part of the project and its approach, as well as research in Thailand (e.g. museums).

7. Publication of the project in the Internet
The project, its workflow and results, will be made globally accessible to the public by means of this web page. Therewith it shall be enabled to interactively involve cultural scientists and also non-academic informants from Thailand, and on the other hand, the Thailand-collections in the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna shall be made accessible to the broad public for the very first time. This website will be developed multilingual (English, Thai, German).

8. Issue an illustrated catalog of the Thailand collections
Finally the project shall be publicized in a multilingual and illustrated catalog presenting the highlights of the Thailand collections.

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Museum of Ethnology
Neue Hofburg
1010 Vienna, Austria

Project management