Weblog modern equivalent of a Wunderkammer
In the Wunderkammer curiosities of a wide nature were collected in a special room or cabinet. We consider the 16th and 17th century form in this essay when we state the term Wunderkammerr (Newhouse, 1998; Parnell, 2004) .
The first written notion of the Wunderkammer is made in Chronics by Froben Christoph von Zimmern in 1564-1566. In the Wunderkammer were rare samples of nature as corals, but mainly curiosities as mandrakes and outgrown antlers In contradiction to the treasure-rooms of rulers, the result of ascendancy, gifts or coincidental acquisitions, were Wunderkammern formed out of a more universal intellectual and political motivation. In 1565 the Flamish doctor Samuel Quiccheberg describes in his theoretical work of museums, “inscriptiones vel tituli theatri amplissimi”, Wunderkammern for the first time as “collection rooms of wonderful things” ( Bergvelt, 1998: pp. 11-16).
Example of a cabinet of curiosities.
Often wrongly called miracle-cabinet
Wunderkammern consisted of collected objects that inspired or generated admiration and fascination for the creator, either God or human (craftsmanship). Objects further cultivated curiosity and greed to collect the objects. Examples that were common in a Wunderkammer are stones, skulls, arrows, shields, fossils and a wide range of other curiosities (Bergvelt, 1998: pp. 26-30; Newhouse, 1998; Labyrinth) .
During the Renaissance were the unordinary pieces collected to achieve clarity, overview and grip on the world. In this period an attempt was made to create an all-inclusive world-view. The idea behind the Wunderkammer was to display a miniature world through the objects. Before that time was the world considered to exist out of three melted together empires of nature: Stones, Minerals, plants and Animals. The human and his creations were part of this but were nowhere specifically placed. God was reflected in all as creator of all. Challenging the values and ideas of the third persons, building up image or reputation could be achieved through a collection. The objects were only added in the Wunderkammer if they could refer to the intellectual and experimental desires of the collector own interest (Bergvelt, 1998: pp. 57, 58, 62-68).
In this time it was quite common to display objects without context in Wunderkammern. Objects were collected according to chosen themes. An example theme was the Greek Civilization. For the collector was the object an illustration to his knowledge on a certain field. The removal of the context was often done on purpose by the collector, because the object did not posses a justified scientific, proven, place in the collection or that the knowledge of the context was lacking. The object could only without context receive a place, lacking clear boundary or theme. Collecting was in the end limited to the financial situation and life-span of the collector. Most collections stood therefore on their own (Bergvelt, 1998: pp. 68-75; Thomas, 1998: pp. 118-121, 133).
A Wunderkammer-collection was only accessible for a small selected group, a community. Within this community the themes were discussed and illustrated with the objects. The discussions that certain objects aroused were considered more important than defining the objects themselves. Through the connections and associations that expressed themselves in the collector’s collection was the owner’s personal vision on the world displayed. Besides giving a form of entertainment, the owner himself was able to become a sort of God by shaping his own world view. From religious sides there grew a distrust to the motives of these collections and there collectors. Owning a Wunderkammer could undermine the rule of the Church and Ruler appointed by God. The Church considered most collectors as persons with contra-religious motives. The fear from the religious angle for owning a Wunderkammer was that the ordering of the curiosity according to personal vision, would lead to a critical view of Gods creation. The owner could with his Wunderkammer give implicit critique on the image of the church’s idea of Gods creation. Fragmenting the world-view would definitely oppose the church’s claim of an all inclusive, totalitarian world-view (Newhouse, 1998)
Wunderkammern became smaller during the 17th century and consisted of cupboards with small shelves were the whole collection was stored. “The Wunderkammer wasn’t only becoming more a standard part of the accumulation / collection of a ruler, but also increasingly a status symbol of a knowledgeable citizen and in catholic countries of the monastery and the higher classes “The collection as a whole remained claiming universality; the change of fashion expressed itself in a preference for specific materials, with a increasing emphasis on the craftsmanship’s talents. The formats of objects and their store place became smaller” (o.a. Bergvelt, 1998: pp. 36, 149, 150).
The creation of Wunderkammern by wealthy citizen and other rich, created a lucrative market for traders. Under traders and sailors was it common known who was interested in certain objects. Slowly commercial networks developed between sailors, traders and collectors.
The increase in popularity of Wunderkammern under bourgeoisie resulted in the need for indexation of the Wunderkammer . New reference-books/ catalogues described the different Wunderkammern in a certain city or country. They were indexed according to set sub-collections as found in more and more Wunderkammern: Naturalia, Artificalia, Antiquitates en Scientifica. The growth of the commercial networks along European coasts and the influence of science contributed to the acceleration of the number of objects and knowledge indexed.
The start of the enlightenment made sub-collections as Naturalia en Artificialia in Wunderkammern considered useless and perceived non-systematic. A growing need for a more scientific classification and a shifting focus from the whole selection to the individual objects led to specializations of Wunderkammern as all representing collections (Bergvelt, 1998: pp 10- 15, 34 Thomas, 1994: 135, 136; Labyrinth) .
During the industrialization collections importance grew more with their significance for education and entertainment. Creation of a network of institutions that finally resulted in the museum. A museum is public orientated, where Wunderkammern were private. Museums had to add to the general conscience, collect empirical knowledge and represent the prestige of the national state. Organized, in large museum halls are collections more opened for educative, nationalistic and economical functions. This new type of “encyclopedically” museum distinguishes itself from the 16de en 17de century Wunderkammer. The Wunderkammer could be classified as encyclopedically but with the difference of the arrangement of the collection. A Wunderkammer does not display a form of history writing as museums display (Bergvelt, 1998: pp. 10- 15, 214, 225 en verder; Labyrinth) .