Welcome to the Cabinet of Curiosity

cabinet1Our new ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’ display in the Victorian Entrance of the museum has been designed to give everyone a glimpse of how varied Tullie House’s collections are.  And to show you the types of material you can expect to find in the museum if you want to come in and take a closer look.

 

Cabinet_of_Curiosities_1690s_Domenico_Remps

European Cabinet of Curiosities from around 1690

We’ve been inspired by ‘Cabinets of Curiosities’, one of the first types of museums that date back to the fourteenth century.  These cabinets started as display cases in private homes where well-travelled people could display all the weird and wonderful objects they had collected and show them (or show off?!) to their guests.  The concept developed over the next three hundred years and expanded from a display case to creating whole rooms of objects that had the effect of inspiring wonder and stimulating creative thought.

 

A number of contemporary historians have gone a little further in their interpretation of these ‘Cabinets of Curiosities’.   These cabinets were created during the Renaissance, a time when scholars wanted to understand how mankind fit within the grand scheme of nature and the divine.   It is argued that these collections of objects were a physical manifestation of this scholarly endeavour, formed around a belief that all things were linked by visible or invisible similarities.  Some people who created their own cabinet believed that by recognising the similarities between objects, they would be brought to an understanding of how the world functioned, and what mankind’s place was in it.

 

Both ideas are plausible: showing off, something more intellectual or indeed somewhere in between.  Whatever we believe, many have argued that from these cabinets the modern museum was born out of this seemingly basic human impulse to collect and be curious about the world around us.

cabinet3

Winter camouflage, keeping warm and having fun in Winter

In our ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’(as you can see from the image above) the curatorial team have selected items from the collections around the theme of ‘Winter’.  These quite different objects have been placed together within the case creating some intriguing contrasts that is certainly in keeping with the concepts of the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Below are two objects that you can see up close in the case.

Government Information Pamphlet

Government information pamphlet from the 1960s

Winter Skating by Dutch School

Winter; Skating by Unknown Dutch artist, 1700s

This is new project for Tullie House and one that we hope to develop further, so we’d like your thoughts about what you’ve seen and how you think it can develop.  Over the next few weeks we will Tweet regularly highlighting individual objects from the case, all object images will be on Pinterest and we will post another Blog featuring more in-depth information about individual objects and report on feedback we’ve received.

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We’re looking forward to hearing what you have to say so Tweet or leave your comment below.

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Posted on January 26, 2016, in Collections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Anne-Marie Knowles

    I just love the figure of the old gentleman. Please could you tell us a bit more about him?

    Like

  2. Thanks for your comment, Anne-Marie. He is an intriguing character and well worth a closer look. The detail on him is amazing!

    We know that the doll was created for Tullie House for the ‘Presences of Nature’ exhibition some years ago. It was made by theater and costume designer Julia Hills, who has also made dolls since she was a child.

    Entitled ‘winter’, this is personified as an old man, seated in an hunched pose and with a tired face. Its name Winter associates the last and coldest season of the year with the last stage of life: old age. The detailed clay modelling of his face and natural, rough-hewn fabrics of his clothing add to this somber rendering of a season and time of life.

    If you know any more about Julia Hills and her work or have a comment on her particular ideas about winter then do share. I’d like to hear from you!

    Like

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