Baroque Museum Tour


In the 16th and 17th centuries, a number of collectors developed and maintained personal museums. These were collections of wonders, microcosms of known world of the time, encompassing natural history specimens, both dried and mounted, stones and minerals, artifacts from exotic cultures, antiquities from ancient civilizations, mechanical wonders, arts and crafts. Especially valued were objects that rode the boundaries between the categories of nature and artifact, and wonders that indicated divine omens.

These seven museums had the good fortune to be recorded in detail, allowing us to take a virtual tour.

Clicking on any image will bring up the full view of the museum

Francesco Calzolari, Verona (1521-1600)
from Benedicto Ceruti and Andrea Chiocco, Musaeum Franc. Calceolarii jun. Veronensis (Verona, 1622)
What remains of this museum is housed in the Natural History Museum of Verona.
More at Ravishing Beasts
Ferrante Imperato, Naples (1550-1631)
from Ferrante Imperato, Dell'historia Naturale (Venice, 1599)
More at Strange Science
Ole Worm, Copenhagen (1588-1655)
from Ole Worm, Museum Wormianum (Leiden, 1655)
The contents of this museum were later acquired by the Royal Danish Kunstkammer, which was dispersed in 1825. Worm's original museum was recreated by Rosamond Purcell and is now installed in the Natural History Museum of Denmark
More at Atlas Obscura
Manfredo Settala, Milan (1600-1680)
from Paolo Maria Terzago, Museo o Galeria: adunta dal sapere, e dallo studio del sig. Canonical Manfredo Settala (1666)
Settala's museum was acquired by Milan's Biblioteca Ambrosiana in 1751 and is now in room 23
More at Bibliodyssey
Athanasius Kircher, Rome (1602-1680)
from Giorgio de Sepibus, Romani Collegii Musaeum Celeberrimum (Rome, 1678)
Parts of Kircher's museum were gathered together for an exhibit at Rome's Palazzo Venezia
The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles has an exhibit on Kircher's machines
More at the Curator's Web Log
Ferdinando Cospi, Bologna (1606-1686)
from Lorenzo Legati, Museo Cospiano (Bologna, 1677)
Some of the items from this museum are currently in the Palazzo Poggi museum in Bologna
Levinus Vincent, Amsterdam (1658-1727)
from Wondertooneel der Natuur (Amsterdam, 1706/1715)
Primarily naturalia, the collection was auctioned off after Vincent's death.
More at Bibliodyssey

Image sources
      Calzolari and Settala: Peter Huber's excellent Wunderkammer site (text in German)
      Imperato and Cospi: Smithsonian Institution Library's exhibition Wonder Bound: Rare Books on Early Museums
      Ole Worm: Wikimedia Commons
      Kircher: Stanford University's Athanasius Kircher Project
      Vincent: University of Strasbourg via Wikimedia Commons

Scholarly works:
      Findlen, Paula Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy
      Impey, Oliver and Arthur MacGregor Origins of Museums: The Cabinet of Curiosities in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century
Coffee table book:
      Mauries, Patrick Cabinets of Curiosities
Links to orifginal sources