On 15 June 1996 the last of three Tyrolean Exhibition Trails (Gothic Art, Baroque & Rococo, Maximilan I) was inaugurated in Innsbruck. With the creation of these Exhibition Trails, for the first time an exhibition event could be organised without involving expensive transportation of works of art – instead, the exhibits, both artefacts in museums and monuments, were presented in context and in situ, surrounded by the landscape, which thus became the natural backdrop for this new exhibition format. Instead of a voluminous exhibition catalogue, the visitor acquired a handy thematic guide, written by renowned local scholars and available in different languages.
Since the launch of the first Tyrolean Exhibition Trail in 1994, this innovative way of promoting local cultural heritage had been followed with interest by the media and by the concerned authorities of different Mediterranean countries.
On the occasion of the inauguration of the Maximilian I Exhibition Trail in June 1996, an international Colloquium on Muslim Art in the Mediterranean was organised in Innsbruck on the initiative of Eva Schubert, the inventive mind behind the MWNF programme, and thanks to the support of different Austrian institutions. Its purpose was to transfer the methodology developed in the Tyrolean pilot project to the Mediterranean region. The Colloquium, which was hosted by the Tyrolean Savings Bank in recognition of its belief in the sustainability of the initiative, was attended by representatives from Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey – with in most cases the same people representing the same organisations that still today continue to be the pillars of the MWNF programme. Since then, public and private institutions from 22 countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East have collaborated in the development of the MWNF programme. With the launch of the Discover Islamic Art Virtual Museum in November 2005, this biggest museum in the world has opened its doors to visitors from all over the world (www.discoverislamicart.org).
The Innsbruck Colloquium, which took place six months after the signing of the Barcelona Declaration in November 1995, was the beginning of the MWNF programme to promote Islamic art and architecture in the Mediterranean and since then, the programme has continued to be strongly connected to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership established by the European Union and its Mediterranean neighbours. Two projects – the Exhibition Trails on Islamic Art in the Mediterranean and the Virtual Museum Discover Islamic Art – could be realised thanks to the financial support of the Euromed Heritage programme, one of the budget lines of this Partnership.
The name Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF), used for the first time at the Innsbruck Colloquium to create a joint heading for the Tyrolean pilot project and the planned programme in the Mediterranean, was then adopted by the non-profit-making organisation running the MWNF programme as its new trade name.
For more information please visit http://www.museumwnf.org/atrium_chronology_home.php