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Why were objects collected?
As a result of the scientific revolution
It was how scientists communicated knowledge
First hand observation - prime source of knowledge
Who collected them?
- Private collectors
- Senior church figures
Activity related to wealth and status
How were they displayed?
At first, seemingly random (The Natural History Museum of Ferrante Imperato 1599)
Moving on to early forms of classification - objects grouped by type, with labels and research materials as seen in the Museum of Ole Worm 1655
Displayed with moral messages
- Ruysch added mottos to confirm human fragility
What role did God have in the observance of early collections?
People were conditioned to ponder God's relationship
It shaped attitudes, approaches and classifications
Collections gave spiritual message
Moral and religious virtues conveyed through science
What function did the objects have?
- Moral Instruction
- Contemplate mortality and the transcience of human life
- Aesthetic Pleasure
- Instil wonder and awe
- Scientific Knowledge
- Promote awareness
- Stimulate a closer study of natural world
- Activities grew out of collecting
The Museum of Ole Worm
- Objects were classified
- Many reference books
- Collecting established an experimental culture
- Practitioner and physician
- Grotesque and macabre anatomical displays (sign of the times - people weren't 'put off')
- Devised early preserving method - turning body parts into objects
- Opera Omnia - confirmed his as a scholar
- Conversant with high art
- Sold his collection to Peter the Great of Russia
What purpose did Ruysch's displays have?
Antidote for atheism
What were people's attitudes towards objects?
They had a casual attitude to death
It broke the established boundaries between disciplines
What was physio-theology?
- Mid 17th Century
- Fostered by outcomes of the Scientific Revolution
Nature is an autonomous self-regulating force
Nature is the product of an intelligent designer
Testimony to existence of God through study of nature
Human body = source of knowledge and vehicle for moral instruction
1593 - Public dissections / anatomical theatre in the Netherlands
Mid 16c - Medical knowledge expanded dramatically
Mid 17c - New philosophical ideas challenged traditional tenets (physio-theology)
1683 - Ashmolean museum opened to the public (ordered into sections, segregated by activity, teaching/study)
1700's - Anatomising human bodies. Netherlands most advanced med school
19th c - Collections were for public display
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