MAK Permanent Collection


MAK – Museum of Applied Arts

For the MAK’s 150th anniversary, designer Michael Embacher has given the Permanent Collection Carpets a new spatial concept that integrates an artistic intervention by Turkish artist Füsun Onur. This new presentation features the carpets of the MAK Collection as components of an intercultural dialog, as elements of exchange both within Asia and between Asia and Europe. Collection objects from the Ottoman and Safavid Empires are joined here by a selection of European pieces, and other objects from the arts-and-crafts sphere interrelate with the carpets from their respective regions of origin, serving to place them in a multilayered formal context and to underline their historical authenticity.

The MAK’s collection of carpets numbers among the three most important such collections worldwide. Its core is formed by classical output from the 16th and 17th centuries, during which the great Islamic realms of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals experienced their golden ages. In addition to pieces from the Islamic world, the MAK is also home to a group of high-quality 18th-century carpets from the Savonnerie manufactory in France. Overall highlights include a unique silk Mamluk carpet, a Safavid hunting carpet, a carpet from Herat ornamented with spiraling tendrils, a figurative Indian piece from the era of Akbar, the Great, and the Savonnerie carpets of Emperor Josef II. The MAK’s collection came together less via systematic acquisitions and more due to the historically motivated integration of holdings, with each group originally having been compiled according to an independent set of criteria. The first carpet was purchased for the museum quite early on, in 1868—and by 1922, most of the items that comprise the present-day collection were already united beneath one roof. The most important ones were former imperial property.

The visualization of the closely interlinked geographic, stylistic, and cultural connections between Europe and both the Middle East and south-western Asia from the period between the 15th and 18th centuries is a central aspect of the display space’s curatorial reconception and redesign. In his architectural concept, Michael Embacher juxtaposes carpets of differing origins, highlighting their plasticity and fragility by using thin steel cables to weave them into his spectacular whole-room installation’s outer shell. Thus positioned at various heights, slightly tilted and turned, the individual objects seem to float within the space.

Füsun Onur (*1938, Istanbul) gives rise here to a beguiling interplay between worlds of ideas, cultures, and religion. The artist has fashioned an ephemeral female angel who floats level with the gallery, presiding over the collected objects as if sent as an all-uniting or all-questioning sign. In so doing, Onur liberates the figure of the angel—a protagonist common to the scriptures of the Tanakh, the Old and New Testaments and the Koran—from preestablished notions of global and intellectual territories in a gesture that is both conceptual and poetic.
Curator: Bärbel Vischer, Curator, MAK Contemporary Art Collection

Curator Barbara Karl, Curator, MAK Textiles and Carpets Collection
Design Michael Embacher
Artistic Intervention Füsun Onur

The MAK Permanent Collection Carpets is accompanied by the MAK/GUIDE Carpets, edited by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein and Barbara Karl, texts by Barbara Karl, Edith Oberhumer, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Bärbel Vischer, and Angela Völker, as well as an interview with Michael Embacher, German/English, ca. 192 pages and appr. 100 color illustrations, Vienna / Munich-London-New York: MAK / Prestel Verlag, 2014. Available at the MAK Design Shop for € 9,90.

Special guided tours by advance booking:
T +43 1 711 36-298,

Program (18 Events)

Mon, 26.10.2020 10.00 am 6.00 pm
Admission only € 6

MAK DAY 2020

Mon, 26.10.2020 11.00 am
Guided tour on the MAK DAY

The luxury tour through the MAK

fully booked
Mon, 26.10.2020 1.00 pm
Guided tour on the MAK DAY

The luxury tour through the MAK

fully booked
Tue, 27.10.2020 6.30 pm
Guided Tour

Happy Hour – As You Like It!

Happy Hour – As You Like It!
Let yourself be surprised by the MAK’s personal recommendations, and let your curiosity be aroused for more! Every Tuesday, our art and culture mediators put together an individual tour in which they link topics from the historical MAK Permanent Collection with the MAK DESIGN LAB.
  • Form Follows Technique 
  • Ornament and Crime                      
  • (Design-)Dilemma      
  • Background Stories                                
  • Staging Everyday Life
  • Animal Stories                                           
  • Showing the Invisible
  • Love Stories 
Limited number of participants: registration is absolutely necessary.
Please wear a mouth-nose protection (mnp) during guided tours. If you have not brought a mnp with you, you can purchase one for € 3 at the MAK Ticket Desk. The general protective measures for the museum visit also apply during the tour. Further information here
We kindly ask you to bring personal headphones (standard 3.5 mm connection) to the tours if possible. Alternatively, disposable headphones can be purchased for € 1 at the ticket office.
€ 3,50
MAK Columned Main Hall

6–9 p.m.
€ 6

Sat, 31.10.2020 11.00 am
Guided tour

Focus on: Blurring boundaries

fully booked


Ottoman Carpet (detail)
niche or prayer carpet
Ottoman Empire, Istanbul or Bursa, 2nd half 16th century, taken over from the Imperial Court in 1922
Exhibition View
MAK Vienna, 2014
Exhibition View
MAK Vienna, 2014
Clam-Gallas Carpet
Herat carpet with coffered pattern
Safavid Empire, East Iran, Herat, late 16th century, purchased from the family of the former Count von Clam-Gallas in 1941
Mamluk Carpet
Mamluk Empire, Egypt, Cairo, after the 1st half 15th century, taken over from the Imperial Court in 1922
Füsun Onur
portrait, 2013
Füsun Onur, Untitled
2013, Artistic Intervention for the MAK Permanent Collection Carpets
Savonnerie-Table Carpet with Flowers (detail)
Style of Louis XIII., France, Paris
Manufacture du Louvre or de Chaillot, mid 17th century
Figdor Carpet
Kerman garden carpet, Safavid Empire, South Iran, 1st half 17th century, purchased at the Albert Figdor auction in 1930
Wiener Jagdteppich [Viennese Hunting Carpet] (detail)
Safavid Empire, Central Iran, Kashan, 1st half 16th century, taken over from the Imperial Court in 1922
Lotto Carpet
Ottoman Empire, West Anatolia, Ushak region, after the middle of the 16th century. 264 x 165 cm, purchased in Romania in 1908
Carpet with Vases (detail)
Safavid Empire, South Iran, Kerman, 2nd half 17th c.
Exhibition View
MAK Vienna, 2014