With a mission to feature the cultural heritage of a specific region according to a specific topic, and to make it accessible and enjoyable to international audiences, Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) highlights treasures that may otherwise remain hidden or unknown to non-experts. To this end MWNF organises innovative exhibition formats delivering unique insights into various areas of great cultural interest. All MWNF exhibition formats and related publications are compiled, written and illustrated by local scholars and photographers, in line with the ethos of MWNF to convey the cultural and historical context of the featured sites according to the local perspective of the country concerned.
In 1996, MWNF initiated the first systematic programme to research, document and increase knowledge and public awareness of the history and cultural legacy of Islam in the countries of the Mediterranean Basin. More than 250 scholars from 14 countries contributed to 11 Exhibition Trails that place 868 Islamic monuments, archaeological sites and museums under the spotlight and to set up www.discoverislamicart.org, the world’s largest online museum, launched in 2005 and continuously updated and further expanded. At present Discover Islamic Art displays 859 artefacts and 385 monuments and archaeological sites related to the period from the Umayyad Caliphate (622) until the end of the Ottoman Empire (1922). Between 1998 and 2007 the programme was made possible thanks to the support of the European Union; in 2007 it became self-sustaining and is since fully self-financed.
The Exhibition Trail is the first exhibition format developed by MWNF; a successful pilot project was set up in the Austrian region of Tyrol (1994–1996) and the experience was then transferred to other areas of Europe and the Mediterranean: instead of moving the works of art it is the visitor who moves around to discover monuments, archaeological sites and artefacts at museums within their natural environment. Handy exhibition catalogues act as useful thematic guides for individual visits, and form the basis of the recently launched MWNF Travel group tours run in partnership with local travel agents from each of the participating countries.
The MWNF Virtual Museum juxtaposes artefacts from a number of museums with a selection of associated monuments and archaeological sites. It comprises a permanent collection and runs a programme of multidisciplinary temporary exhibitions, with explanations in several languages and complimented by various tools of great educational value. The MWNF Virtual Museum provides an important cross-cultural infrastructure for the participating museums in, currently, 22 countries and a valuable source of information and enjoyment for people with cultural interest, students, media and educators worldwide.
The MWNF portal www.museumwnf.org offers an overview of the wide spectrum of activities, products and services of MWNF and its network of partners in the fields of culture, education and tourism.
Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) was initiated and founded in 1994 in Vienna (Austria) by Eva Schubert and became an international organisation in 1995. It operates as a not for profit organisation, and since 2002 has been based in Brussels.