October 5, 2021

How Do 1600s Cabinets of Curiosity Reflect a Cooperation Between Art and Science?

Nathalie Nijk

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Screen PrintThe Curious Collection of Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, 202040 x 58 cm

The creation of this artwork has been inspired by the 1600s phenomenon called ‘Cabinets of Curiosity’ – private collections that could be seen as the predecessors of our modern museums. What I found remarkable about these collections is the absence of a division between art and science – butterflies, shells and paintings were showcased alongside specimens in jars and scientific objects. They were purposely showcased this way, creating juxtapositions of unexpected objects, to make the viewer think about topics like spirituality and religion. Museum collections in 2021 are mostly separated per subject – there are art galleries and science museums. This difference made me wonder whether these collections reflect a wider societal change regarding the separation of art and science. And how do the Cabinets of Curiosity show that intertwining the two has beneficial effects?