In the 19th century and earlier, historians, scientists, and other scholars often created “Cabinets of Curiosities” for their collections of specimens and artifacts. A “Cabinet of Curiosities” might be as small as an actual cabinet, or it might fill a room or even an entire building. In the last two cases, scholarly colleagues might gather at the cabinet to discuss their research, travels, and discoveries.
Cabinets of Curiosities might be meticulously organized, or they might be arranged with no apparent rhyme or reason. You might find ancient Roman coins next to a pickled shark embryo, a stuffed lemur, an elephant’s skull, or a suit of Japanese armor. (We suspect Cabinets of Curiosities sometimes served as outlets for intellectual hoarders!) Several of these Cabinets evolved into our present-day museums.
This Cabinet of Curiosities is still under construction. Like the historical Cabinets, it will include a hodgepodge of material ranging from the inspirational to the informative to the icky. You might take an armchair tour to weird and wonderful historic sites, examine mysterious artifacts, puzzle over the quirks of 19th-century life, discover fascinating new books, meet writers and historians, or see the debunking of the history myth-stories of our childhoods.
As the old-time radio announcers used to say, “Stay tuned!”
If you have any suggestions for things you’d like to see in the Cabinet of Curiosities, or have any questions you’d like answered there, please contact the author.