Top positive review
17 people found this helpful
on April 22, 2013
It is hard to know where to start with this book - it is filled with every mystery and treasure you can imagine. This book describes Cabinets of Wonder, and this book is a wonder itself. You can truly be transported whether reading about historical or modern wunderkammers, or just flipping through the pages to admire the magical collections within.
This book begins by examining the historic origins of the collections that comprise a wonder cabinet as we know it today. As documented, the collections are dictated by the collecting whims of the assembler and may contain anything the collector found fascinating, curious, exotic or desirable. A collection may include natural objects, artwork, souvenirs, scientific instruments, ornaments, specimens, memento mori, musical instruments, medical oddities - any object that inspires curiosity.
This book documents historical collectors and their collections, and some of their motivations for assembling objects into a collection. They are motivated by a desire to understand the world around them, but also by fame, social status and obsession. These people are royalty, scholars, artists, scientists and eccentrics. Their collections and the labor it took to construct them make for fascinating reading. The book also explains how the curiosity cabinets evolved into museums as we know them today .
This book also does a thorough job of reporting on modern day wonder cabinets and their place in contemporary art. I have purchased a few books about wonder cabinets recently hoping that they would include modern examples, but this is the only book to do so, and I was delighted by what was included.
Although I enjoyed the text of this book tremendously, it is the wonderful photography and illustrations that that makes this book so satisfying. On every page you are treated to compositions of visually inspiring objects. There are skulls, bones, marble statues, taxidermy, artwork, furniture, reliquaries, globes, hides, eggs, shells, insects, diagrams, specimens, artifacts, monsters, treasures, composite creatures, grottoes, and monsters - every marvel you could hope to see in a curiosity cabinet. You can spend many hours getting lost in this fascinating book.