Collecting Reimagined: A 2D Curiosity Cabinet
Dec. 14, 2019 - Mar. 29, 2020
Sea serpents crushing ships. Seven-foot-tall giants. A mummified Porsche. What other oddities might you find in the Bruce Museum’s 2D curiosity cabinet?
See for yourself by exploring the Bruce Museum’s new exhibition, Collecting Reimagined: A 2D Curiosity Cabinet, opening in the Museum’s Bantle Lecture Gallery on Saturday, December 14, 2019.
The practice of collecting objects and putting them on display in cabinets of curiosities reached its peak among European collectors, scientists, and royalty during the 16th and 17th centuries. The purposes of these rooms varied, from showcasing prized possessions to serving as educational tools. Some cabinet owners even aspired to the metaphysical in their desire to create a microcosm of the universe through their collections.
Curiosity cabinets are traditionally thought of as physical spaces filled with objects. However, scholars and artists in the past also used words and images to describe, and occasionally create, cabinets in two-dimensional form. In these works, the cabinet is shown on paper rather than displayed in a room. Prints such as the third plate from William Hogarth’s Marriage A-la-Mode series (shown above) depict the interior spaces and contents of cabinets. Books filled with printed images detail the objects in the cabinets and the categories used to organize them.
Drawing inspiration from these cabinets on paper, this exhibition uses printed works, photographs, medals, textiles, and scrimshaw from the Bruce Museum collections to create a cabinet filled with two-dimensional depictions of typical three-dimensional cabinet objects.