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  • The Butterfly House

    Carla Bobadilla

    Chapter from the book: Carabelli, G et al. 2020. Sharpening the Haze: Visual Essays on Imperial History and Memory.


    In Vienna’s first district, the historical centre of the city, between the National Library, the Government Palace and the Opera, is the Butterfly House. Within the midst of the copious vegetation and butterfly spectacle, visitors can find four fiberglass figures. These sculptures, done by the Swedish-Peruvian artist Felipe Letterstern during the 1990s, are plaster models taken directly from the body of inhabitants of the Amazon. This greenhouse, like many others of its kind scattered throughout Europe, is categorized as a Palm House, Palmenhaus. This concept is historically rooted in the imperial need to collect and store exotic items from research journeys to the colonies in the 19th and 20th centuries. These trips were intended to discover regions not yet seen by European eyes, but they also had a purely scientific aim of collecting, cataloguing and naming the "new" species. The place is visited daily by hundreds of tourists and at the same time, local public, families, schools and kindergarten groups will visit the place with the idea, not only to know the imperial history of Austria, but also to accept "the exotic" as an implicit constituent part of its cultural heritage.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Bobadilla, C. 2020. The Butterfly House. In: Carabelli, G et al (eds.), Sharpening the Haze. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/bcd.h

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Jan. 7, 2020


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