A global adventure at home

No, I am not talking about traveling the world.  Or maybe I am — but while staying home in my city.  What I did the other day was virtually travel around the globe, actually around a lot of globes, right here in Vienna 🙂   I joined Instagramers Austria  for a visit to Vienna´s Globe Museum and Esperanto museum.  These two small museums are located inside the historic Palais Mollard in Herrengasse and belong to the Austrian National Library.

Palais Mollard on Herrengasse

Pri la Esperantomuzeo

(About the Esperanto museum)  The Esperanto Museum is quite unique and  one of the world’s oldest language museums and one of the most important institutions of this type. It collects  media and objects related to the history of the global planned language Esperanto and interlinguistics.

Esperanto is a constructed language or planned language with a relatively simple grammar and a vocabulary derived from several other languages.  The first projects for planned languages were developed as early as the 16th century!   Of all the planned languages it is the most widely spoken constructed international language.  In the late 19th century Dr. L. L. Zamenhof, a Polish ophthalmologist created it, publishing a book under the pseudonym Dr. Esperanto. 

Portrait of Dr. Zamenhof at the Esperanto Museum

The name Esperanto translates to English as “one who hopes”.  He devised it in an attempt to create an easy and flexible language that would serve as a universal second language to foster peace and international understanding.  Zamenhof organized the first World Esperanto Congress in 1905.

Participants at the second World Esperanto Congress of 1906. Photo at the Esperanto Museum.

The use of Esperanto and the community of speakers grew throughout the 20th century, although Esperanto speakers faced persecution in totalitarian regimes.    Esperanto is still spoken by many people today, and there are even international Esperanto Conventions taking place. There are   periodicals and literature in Esperanto, and groups tailored to specific regions and interests.

Books and games in Esperanto

The World Esperanto Association, has  5501 individual members in 120 countries and 9215 through national associations (2015 figures, according to Wikipedia).

The Esperanto Museum is quite old, actually.  It was first established in Vienna in 1929, but was then closed by the Gestapo in March 1938.  Only after the end of World War II, it reopened, then at the Hofburg (presidential palace) in 1947.  It moved to its current location at Herrengasse 9 in 2005.

Esperanto is not the only planned language around.  There is a thriving community of creators of planned or constructed languages (think Klingon or Dothraki!), though many have never been fully realized.


Around the world in an hour

Different, but somewhat related thematically (global) is the outstanding collection of globes of all ages and kinds at the Globe Museum in the same building.  You will find terrestrial and celestial globes, globes of the moon and other planets.  You can find some especially valuable terrestrial and celestial globes, such as the ones made by Gerard Mercator in 1541 and 1551, or the globes by Vincenzo Coronelli.

Vincenzo Coronelli globes
Vincenzo Coronelli globes – a celestial and an earth globe dating back to 1693


The museum currently owns more than 770 objects, of which more than 250 are exhibited.  But not only does the museum have a unique and large collection of globes and astronomical instruments, it is also housed in a palace, and you can see a fantastic golden room with historic frescoes attributed to the painter Andrea Lanzani.


a globe related instrument
A little “planetarium” – a model of the planetary system from London, 1794
Shiny globes in the globe museum
Some of the older globes and planetary globes


One of the oldest societies in the world dealing with the history of cartography, the International Coronelli Society for the Study of Globes, was founded in Vienna in 1952.  For more than 50 years it has published the magazine “Der Globusfreund” (since 2000 also in English as  “Globe Studies”).

Der Globusfreund


I had no idea of all the kinds of globes people have made.  I found the folding paper globes particularly intriguing.

There is also a special digital attraction: the virtual globe next to the original Mercator Earth globe is a 3D facsimile that offers visitors the possibility to rotate and magnify the untouchable Mercator globe on a touch screen, and to superimpose it on modern maps and so to draw comparisons between the geographical knowledge of the 16th century and today´s known reality.

Thank you for the interesting tour, National Library team (and hostess Claudia del Mar – look at her lovely Instagram profile), and Instagramers Austria with host Wolfgang a.k.a. famiglia_vienna.

a little globe line-up



More info

You may be surprised to learn that the Austrian National Library runs six museums, among them the two above-mentioned, plus the glorious baroque State Hall at the library itself, the Literature Museum, the Papyrus Museum, and the House of Austrian History.  If you cannot get enough of globes, you will also find two pairs of Venetian globes by Vincenzo Coronelli in the gorgeous State Hall of the Austrian National Library.

Also, did you know the National Library has a crowd sourcing research project?  They need help categorizing, tagging and localizing historic aereal views of Austria.  So if you want to participate, check out the information here.

Sources: Website of the Austrian National Library, Wikipedia



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