Collecting art and nature: cabinets of curiosities


In the strictest sense, a cabinet of curiosities is precisely that: a single, freestanding piece of furniture containing numerous compartments packed with exotic and instructive natural and artificial objects. Unlike the larger collections assembled episodically over time, cabinets of this kind were typically conceived as a whole and executed in their final, complete form as encyclopaedic overviews of whole worlds of culture and learning in the most compact possible form. While several of these cabinets survive, only one -- given by the city of Augsburg in 1632 to the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus -- survives with its original contents intact. 

Not prescribed
Image for Augsburg cabinet, 1640-60
Depicting collecting
Hybrids of art and nature
Transforming nature into art
Art in motion
Studiolo of Francesco I de' Medici (1569-1586)
The Kunstkammer of Duke August I of Saxony