Museum of Folkart and Tradition, Porcia Castle

Dr. Hartmut Prasch


Museum of Folkart and Tradition, Porcia Castle

9800 Spittal/Drau, Austria

From Local Museum to Regional Information Center -
The development of the Museum of Folkart and Tradition Spittal/Drau, Austria

The "Museum of Folkart and Tradition" Spittal/Drau, Austria - a short history
In 1958 seven enthusiastic volunteers interested in history and tradition founded the Museum for the goal to preserve objects and documents and later on give them back to the public in the form of a permanent exhibition. They started to collect items especially from the alpine areas of western Carinthia which through the years turned out to be one of the biggest ethnographic collections in Austria. Around 25.000 items, from small coins to huge agricultural machines were brought together.
From the start the museum has been leaded and owned by a private association of friends where all the objects are gifts and all the people in charge are enthusiastic volunteers. The city council of Spittal offered the best place in town to build up the permanent exhibition - 2 floors (2.400 msup2;) in Porcia Castle, one of the most famous Renaissance Pallazzos outside Italy.
Since 1987 the museum is leaded by a museum professional and a scientific assistant, where all other staff are still volunteers (ca. 35). In 1991 a long-term development concept was made with the goal, to make the museum an information center for the whole western part of Carinthia with the intention to change the "visitors" into "users" of the museum.

The realization steps of this concept will be shown in this presentation:
Total renewing of the presentation focusing on the topic "living and working in the alpine area" in a new user-orientated presentation form, where most of the object can and should be touched and tried out.
Building up a local decentralized museum puzzle in the region to show special topics of history where they originally happened (The "Museum of Fishing" in an old fisherman's hut beside the Lake Millstatt, the "Museum of Alpine Farming" in an original alpine hut beside a scenic road in the Nockberge National Park, an old mills ensemble in situ also in the National Park, a documentation of arsenic mining, the history of the most important railway across the alps, the Tauernbahn in the form of a miniature railway.)
Building up an information tools system by using all kinds of modern technology (from touch-screens to 3D-cinema where You can navigate the flight through the valleys of the region on your own).Developing education tools for kids, adults, pupils and families.
Establishing permanent cooperation with strategic partners (eg. Nationalparks, Kauml;rnten Card, University, Pauml;dagogic Institut, Adults Education Service etc.) which ensures that we are a main factor in tourism as well as an important partner in transforming identifi- cation within the local public.
Establishing permanent economic cooperation to ensure the financial fundament of the museum. Nowadays 75of the annual budget is financed by the Association of Friends of the Museum on its own. This belongs to three main facts: Mainly to the 150 000 paying visitors we have within the "Museum Puzzle", to the low personal costs because of only two employed and 35 volunteers, and to the sponsorship out of private economy. 25of the budget are covered by public money from the city and the country government.
As this is a long term development program which is not yet and maybe will never be really finished because whenever you reach the next step new needs immediately appear to be focused the Museum of Folkart and Tradition will stay as an experimentarium for the future. The steps we did yet were right is shown by the awards we got during the last 15 years:

"Austrian Childrens Museum Award 1989" for the educational programs
"EMYA - Special Commendation 1995" for the new form of presentation
"Austrian Museum Award 1999" for the dezentralized
"Museum Puzzle"
"Austrian Museum Quality Proof Mark 2003"
for Infrastructure and Information Quality


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