The Western Himalaya Archive Vienna (WHAV) at the ­University of Vienna’s Department of Art History is a documentation and research center that focuses on the art and material culture of the Western Himalayan region. The WHAV contains the world’s most extensive collection of original, scientifically archived visual documentation and associated research materials for this area. However, the collections far exceed the geographic boundaries of the Western Himalayan region by including original visual resources from countries in South, Central, and Southeast Asia, such as India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China/Tibetan Autonomous Region, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

The WHAV holds more than 120,000 analog and digital ­visual assets, including more than 75,000 slides, as well as photographs, maps, architectural plans, and drawings, and also long-term loans and contributions from ­international scholars. These resources primarily result from research ­expeditions funded by Austrian Science Fund (FWF) grants for research projects such as the CHWH (

The WHAV’s archive is intended to be used for documentary and research purposes, as well as for teaching, and is accessible to the international scholarly community and the broader public.

The WHAV is dedicated to the preservation of these unique assets which have enormous documentary value and are thus a unique primary resource for the study and preservation of the artistic and cultural history of these regions. Following established international standards for long-term archiving, the WHAV is currently in the process of digitizing its extensive assets with the goal of facilitating accessibility to the archive. Many of these resources are already available through the WHAV’s online scientific database.

Please follow this link for a more detailed description of the WHAV.

If you are interested in the other research activities our group is involved in please visit the following pages:

  • CIRDIS (Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Documentation of Inner and South Asian Cultural History)
  • CHWH (The Cultural History of the Western Himalaya from the 8th Century)
  • BibDB (Bibliographic Database: Cultural History of the Western Himalaya and Adjacent Areas)
  • NRPP (The Nako Research and Preservation Project)