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Seminar 12

Displaying Art and Nature: Kunstkammern and Wunderkammern


Seminar questions

  1. Why were the Wunderkammern so popular among German princes?


  1. What was the purpose of Wunderkammern?


  1. How is the “age of exploration” reflected in the Wunderkammern?


  1. “The Wunderkammern were the precursors of museums”. Discuss


  1. “Knowledge is power”. Can this statement explain the creation of Kunstkammern in Central Europe?



Suggested reading

Balsinger, B.J., The Kunst- und Wunderkammern. A Catalogue Raisonnè of Collecting in Germany, France and England, 1565-1750, Pittsburgh, PA, 1970


Bedini, Silvio, ‘The Evolution of Science Museums’, Technology and Culture, 6 (1965), pp. 1-29 [Project Muse]


DaCosta Kaufmann, Thomas, ‘The Kunstkammer as a Form of Representation: Remarks on the Collections of Rudolf II’, Art Journal, 38 (1978), pp. 22-28 [Arts Periodicals]


DaCosta Kaufmann, Thomas, ‘From Mastery of the World to Mastery of Nature: The Kunstkammer, Politics, and Science’, in Idem, The Mastery of Nature. Art, Science, and Humanism in the Renaissance, Princeton 1993, ch. 7 [CB 361.K2]


DaCosta Kaufmann, Thomas, Court, Cloister and City. The Art and Culture of Central Europe 1450-1800, London 1995, ch. 7 [N 6861.K2]


Findlen, Paula, ‘The Economy of Scientific Exchange in Early Modern Italy’, in Patronage and Institutions: Science, Technology, and Medicine at the European Court, ed. Bruce Moran, Woodbridge 1991, pp. 5-24 [Q 125.P2]


Findlen, Paula, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy, Berkeley, CA, 1994 [Q 105.I8]


Findlen, Paula, ‘Inventing Nature: Commerce, Art, and Science in the Early Modern Cabinet of Curiosities’, in Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science, and Art in Early Modern Europe, eds. P.H. Smith and P. Findlen, New York-London 2002, pp. 297-323 [N 72.M3]


Evans, R.J.W., Rudolf II and His World. A Study in Intellectual History 1576-1612, Oxford 1973 [DD 187.E9]


Fucikova, Eliska et al. (eds.), Rudolf II and Prague. The Court and the City, London 1997 [DB 225.P7]


Greenblatt, S., Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World, Chicago 1991 [E 121.G7]


Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean, Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge, London 1992 [AM 5.H6]


Impey, Oliver – MacGregor, Arthur (eds), The Origins of Museums: The Cabinet of Curiosities in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Europe, London 2001 [AM 342.O7]


Kenseth, Joy (ed), The Age of the Marvelous, Chicago 1991


MacGregor, Arthur, Ark to Ashmolean: The Story of the Tradescants, Ashmole and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 1983


MacGregor, Arthur, Tradescant’s Rarities. Essays on the Foundation of the Ashmolean Museum, 1683, Oxford 1983


Pearce, Susan M., Museums, Objects and Collections: A Cultural Study, Leicester 1992 [AM 5.P3]


Pearce, Susan M. (ed.), Interpreting Objects and Collections, London-New York 1994, chs. 23-24 [AM 133.I6]


Pomian, Krzystzof, Collectors and Curiosities: Paris and Venice, 1500-1800, Cambridge 1990 [N 5200.P6]