The Museum of Ethnology Vienna, one of the world's most significant ethnological museums, comprises collections from Oceania and North America gathered by James Cook during his 1768 – 80 travels. This site also houses a group of Mexican featherwork and other rare objects from the Americas, Africa and Indonesia, which in 1596 formed the collection of Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol at Ambras Castle.
The origins of the museum go back to 1806, when the purchase of a substantial part of the Cook collection led to the establishment of an Ethnographic Collection, within the Imperial Cabinet of Natural History. Following 1876, the rapidly growing collections were held in the Anthropological-Ethnographic Department of Vienna's Museum of Natural History.
In 1928, the Museum of Ethnology was set up in the Corps de Logis wing of the Imperial Castle. Since 2001, the museum has been operating as part of the Scientific Institution of Public Law. The site is in possession of over 200,000 ethnographic artifacts, 25,000 photographs and 136,000 books, as well as journals dealing with the culture and history on non-European peoples. Since 2006, the museum owns the Human-Ethological Film Archive Eibl-Eibesfeldt, featuring some 300 kilometres of film about the everyday life of traditional societies in Africa, South America and Oceania.