The history of a modern crisis

The Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art takes part in a cooperation project initiated and organized by the House of European History in Brussels on the broad topic of garbage, throwing away, reusing and avoiding. Garbage is perhaps the most visible and tangible aspect of the looming environmental crisis. The project shows the unknown history of waste in Europe and tells the story of social change.
Together with nine other European museums, the concept for a multilingual and interactive online platform was developed. The digital platform is available since February 18th onward at It features object biographies of more than seventy digitized objects from the participating museums, audiovisual stories from across the EU about waste, as well as blogposts, photo reports, live-streamed events, and podcasts on a wide range of activities and events.
In addition, the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art is contributing to the exhibition Throwaway – The history of a modern crisis which will be on view at the House of European History in Brussels from February 18th 2023 through January 15th 2024. The exhibition addresses the shortages of wartime, the swelling tide of waste in the post-war consumer society, and finally the barely manageable waste crisis of today.
The Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art is represented with seven object biographies and three audiovisual stories realized by the Viennese filmmaker Mike Kren on the platform as well as with a loan object at the exhibition in Brussels. The objects, which entered the museums collection in the period between 1896 and 2022, show past as well as current thematic focuses. The objects include “bone animals“ made from slaughterhouse waste; a plate repaired by “rastelbinder” (wire binding); a pair of leather trousers of a goatherd that is badly worn and has been mended several times; an artwork made from remnants of mementos of the terror night of 2020; flotsam collected in 2017 in the context of the great flight movements on the Greek coast; an embroidered skirt trim that shows traces of pest infestation; and last but not least over 5,300 ceramic and clay shards and fragments that came to the museum between 1948 and 1955, inventoried and stored in almost one hundred boxes in the depot and waiting for their museological use.

Team Volkskundemuseum Wien:
Magdalena Puchberger, Lena Nothdurfter

Contribution Volkskundemuseum Wien:
Preventive Conservation on a Budget
The Shores of Austria
A Tale of Use and Reuse
Object biographies - filter museum: Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art

Online platform Throwaway:
Platform design: Digiocracy
Languages: French, English and German, as well as machine translation into all other official languages of the EU.
Participating museums:
Volkskundemuseum Wien (Austria)
Natural History Museum Vienna (Austria)
Eesti Rahva Muuseum in Tartu (Estonia)
Fondazione Museo Ettore Guatelli in Ozzano Taro (Italy)
House of European History, Brussels (Belgium)
Museum of European Cultures, National Museums in Berlin (Deutschland)
Musée de la Vie wallonne in der Provinz Lüttich (Belgium)
Muzej novejše zgodovine Celje (Slovenia)
Moesgaard Museum (Denmark)
Muzeul Naţional al Ţăranului Român in Bukarest (Romania)
Państwowe Muzeum Etnograficzne in Warschau (Poland) 

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