Permanent Collection Orient

Artistic internvention: GANGART

Permanent Collection space 1993-2014

As a way of approaching the anachronism of carpets hung as if they were pictures, vertical and horizontal presentation surfaces have been produced in the same material, forming a detached unit to provide a "setting" for the exhibits. The carpets are mounted without individual frames, corresponding to their appearance when in use. The presentation surfaces are proportioned in relation to the given architectonic parameters, and consist of two units with L-shaped sections running along the long axis of the hall. They are distinct from the floor and walls, and their state of "suspension” is enhanced by the restricted lighting. The colouring of the elements is a reaction to the dominant warm tones of the exhibits: they are restrained in character in relation both to the carpets and to the architectonic design elements. The remaining central corridor defines the mode of reception, both by setting the distance from which the exhibits can be observed and by setting the direction of the sequence in which they are observed. / GANGART

The collection of oriental carpets in the MAK is one of the finest, most valuable, and best known in the world, although not one of the most extensive. The collection's emphasis on "classic" carpets of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries derives from the former Austrian Imperial Family, whose carpets passed to the Museum after World War I. Examples of these are the silk hunting carpet and the silk Mameluke carpet, the only one in the world to have survived. It is still not certain how the carpets came into the possession of the Austrian Imperial Family, in which they were treated as very highly valued household objects, not as collector's items. In the East Asian world, the knotted carpet laid on the floor is the most important element of interior decoration, both in the nomadic period and in the ruler's palace. Artistic inventiveness, manual dexterity, and precious materials are therefore plentifully applied. Another source of the collection, which had started acquiring its own oriental carpets very early, is the Imperial and Royal Oriental or Trade Museum, whose carpets passed to the MAK when it was closed in 1907. / Angela Völker (curator of the MAK Textiles and Carpets Collection during the phase of the reinstallation of the MAK Permanent Collection in the early 1990s)