Renaissance bling
November 22, 2006 11:03 AM   Subscribe

The King's Kunstkammer - en vogue in Renaissance Europe, kunstkammers were status symbols of kings, vast collections of art, curiosities, and scientific and natural objects. This is a partial reconstruction of the Royal Danish Kunstkammer, established by King Frederik III in the mid-1600s. Exploring the collection's 250 objects offers insight into princely preoccupations of the era.
posted by madamjujujive (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you madamjjj, what a wonderful collection of curiosities.
Happy holidays.
posted by adamvasco at 11:17 AM on November 22, 2006

It is great. I wish there was a bit of explanation with the objects, but that would be a lot of explaining.
posted by wsg at 11:24 AM on November 22, 2006

"Kunstkammer" is simply a danish word made up of the two words kunst(=art) and kammer(=room). I do not believe it to be used ouside dk, and I don't think you should use it to describe this type of collection in english.
posted by Catfry at 11:59 AM on November 22, 2006

Isn't the usual English phrase "cabinet of curiosities" or something like that?

Nonetheless, a great find, mjjj.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:10 PM on November 22, 2006

I believe you to be wrong. viz
CABINETS OF WONDER - The English translation of kunstkammer and wunderkammer, the cabinets of curiosities and wonders that evolved into the dime museums of the 19th Century. The were private collections of odd, bizarre, unusual, exotic and - by today's standards - relatively mundane objects, many of which might be found in any museum of natural history.
posted by adamvasco at 12:15 PM on November 22, 2006

Catfy, these exist throughout Europe , and the term is indeed used outside of Denmark. Here is more about the kunstkammers of Europe

"And from artlex which, distinguishes between the cabinet and the kunstkammer:
Kunstkabinett and Kunstkammer - Most literally, the German word Kunstkabinett means a "cabinet of curiosities," and a Kunstkammer is a "chamber of curiosities," exhibition spaces in which odd and wondrous rarities were brought together for private contemplation and pleasure. The words are German, but they are also used by speakers and writers of English because so many of the earliest (16th century) and best examples were created in Germany. Although the objects on display in these spaces were art objects, if some or all of the objects were marvels of nature, then they were instead called Wunderkabinetts and Wunderkammern. These precursors of the museum were developments of the Renaissance. The museum, on the other hand, was a creation of the Enlightenment.

A rule in writing German is that the first letter of every noun must be capitalized (common as well as proper nouns), so the first K's in these words are usually capitalized in English texts.

The plural of "Kunstkammer" is "Kunstkammern."

Kunstkabinetts and Kunstkammern very rarely remain today as they were in previous centuries. They are simultaneously pieces of furniture and the collections of objects within them, and naturally the selections of things in most were altered at the decision of their owners. The Getty Museum is justly proud of its empty cabinet (and title it Display Cabinet) because this exemplar remains so evocative of the high level of wonder its viewers must have taken in its presentation."
posted by madamjujujive at 12:27 PM on November 22, 2006

...oops so sorry I mangled your name Catfry, no can type ;-)

And happy thanksgiving back at ya, adamvasco, and to everyone else as well!
posted by madamjujujive at 12:30 PM on November 22, 2006

Well sorry about that madam! Turns out I were the one to learn things today.
posted by Catfry at 1:11 PM on November 22, 2006

Very nice, thank you madamjujujive. Related (Swedish)
posted by tellurian at 1:26 PM on November 22, 2006

eh, Catfry, as the article said, we are talking about pretty rare things here, and I just learned this a day or two ago when I found the link - I appreciate your participating.

tellurain, that's a great post! Some of the images are quite remarkable. Between the web, tv, films and photography, we see so much of the world today. These institutions were an narrow window to the outside world. The exhibits must have been so exciting - we are jaded.

I often wish everything in mefi didn't whoosh by so fast, I must miss so many good things.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:54 PM on November 22, 2006

Nifty stuff. Yeah, madamjujujive, you miss stuff even if you read the main post and don't catch everything in the thread. And thanks.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:32 PM on November 22, 2006

Thanks madamJJJ, this is a great find.
posted by snsranch at 4:27 PM on November 22, 2006

Thank you madamjujujive. I had not seen that before. And kind of timely. I have been (not very successfully) trying to find info and images from a renowned 1714 book called 'Museum Museorum' by MB Valentini which ..
" the single most valuable contribution to Wunderkammer studies as it reprints many early collection catalogues [many of which are completely unobtainable now] and gives a list of all the museums known to exist at the time."
[the original image that sparked my interest]

During the course of my meanderings I came across a 2006 article divided into 3 pdfs from a geological site. I found it all rather fascinating. Although it is aimed towards rocks/crystals, it gives an interesting slant on that whole collection community or ethos or obsession. This may be of tangential interest to some. (middle of the page: 'Fifty-four...' as the title)
posted by peacay at 2:28 AM on November 23, 2006

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