The Cabinet of Curiosities

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Cabinets of curiosities also known in German loanwords as Kunstkabinett , Kunstkammer or Wunderkammer ; also Cabinets of Wonder , and wonder-rooms were encyclopedic collections of objects whose categorical boundaries were, in Renaissance Europe , yet to be defined. Modern terminology would categorize the objects included as belonging to natural history sometimes faked , geology , ethnography , archaeology , religious or historical relics , works of art including cabinet paintings , and antiquities.

The Kunstkammer conveyed symbolically the patron's control of the world through its indoor, microscopic reproduction. The term cabinet originally described a room rather than a piece of furniture. The classic cabinet of curiosities emerged in the sixteenth century, although more rudimentary collections had existed earlier. The earliest pictorial record of a natural history cabinet is the engraving in Ferrante Imperato 's Dell'Historia Naturale Naples illustration, left. It serves to authenticate its author's credibility as a source of natural history information, in showing his open bookcases at the right, in which many volumes are stored lying down and stacked, in the medieval fashion, or with their spines upward, to protect the pages from dust.

Some of the volumes doubtless represent his herbarium. Every surface of the vaulted ceiling is occupied with preserved fishes, stuffed mammals and curious shells, with a stuffed crocodile suspended in the centre. Examples of corals stand on the bookcases. At the left, the room is fitted out like a studiolo [5] with a range of built-in cabinets whose fronts can be unlocked and let down to reveal intricately fitted nests of pigeonholes forming architectural units, filled with small mineral specimens.

Below them, a range of cupboards contain specimen boxes and covered jars. Sculpture both classical and secular the sacrificing Libera , a Roman fertility goddess [9] on the one hand and modern and religious Christ at the Column [10] are represented, while on the table are ranged, among the exotic shells including some tropical ones and a shark's tooth: Two of the most famously described seventeenth-century cabinets were those of Ole Worm , known as Olaus Wormius — illustration, above right , and Athanasius Kircher — These seventeenth-century cabinets were filled with preserved animals, horns, tusks, skeletons, minerals, as well as other interesting man-made objects: Often they would contain a mix of fact and fiction, including apparently mythical creatures.

However he was also responsible for identifying the narwhal 's tusk as coming from a whale rather than a unicorn , as most owners of these believed. The specimens displayed were often collected during exploring expeditions and trading voyages. In the second half of the 18th century, Belsazar Hacquet c. It included a number of minerals, including specimens of mercury from the Idrija mine , a herbarium vivum with over 4, specimens of Carniolan and foreign plants, a smaller number of animal specimens, a natural history and medical library, and an anatomical theatre.

Cabinets of curiosities would often serve scientific advancement when images of their contents were published. The catalog of Worm's collection, published as the Museum Wormianum , used the collection of artifacts as a starting point for Worm's speculations on philosophy, science, natural history, and more. Cabinets of curiosities were limited to those who could afford to create and maintain them.

Many monarchs , in particular, developed large collections. The fabulous Habsburg Imperial collection included important Aztec artifacts, including the feather head-dress or crown of Montezuma now in the Museum of Ethnology, Vienna. These were cabinets in the sense of pieces of furniture, made from all imaginable exotic and expensive materials and filled with contents and ornamental details intended to reflect the entire cosmos on a miniature scale.

The best preserved example is the one given by the city of Augsburg to King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in , which is kept in the Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala. The curio cabinet , as a modern single piece of furniture, is a version of the grander historical examples.

The juxtaposition of such disparate objects, according to Horst Bredekamp's analysis Bredekamp , encouraged comparisons, finding analogies and parallels and favoured the cultural change from a world viewed as static to a dynamic view of endlessly transforming natural history and a historical perspective that led in the seventeenth century to the germs of a scientific view of reality.

The Cabinet of Curiosities - Stefan Bachmann - Hardcover

The "Enlightenment Gallery" in the British Museum , installed in the former "Kings Library" room in to celebrate the th anniversary of the museum, aims to recreate the abundance and diversity that still characterized museums in the mid-eighteenth century, mixing shells, rock samples and botanical specimens with a great variety of artworks and other man-made objects from all over the world.

In , Michael Bernhard Valentini published an early museological work, Museum Museorum , an account of the cabinets known to him with catalogues of their contents. Some strands of the early universal collections, the bizarre or freakish biological specimens, whether genuine or fake, and the more exotic historical objects, could find a home in commercial freak shows and sideshows. He began sporadically collecting plants in England and France while studying medicine. He accepted and spent fifteen months collecting and cataloguing the native plants, animals, and artificial curiosities e.

This became the basis for his two volume work, Natural History of Jamaica , published in and Sloane returned to England in with over eight hundred specimens of plants, which were live or mounted on heavy paper in an eight-volume herbarium. He also attempted to bring back live animals e. Sloane meticulously cataloged and created extensive records for most of the specimens and objects in his collection.

He also began to acquire other collections by gift or purchase. Herman Boerhaave gave him four volumes of plants from Boerhaave's gardens at Leiden. William Charleton, in a bequest in , gave Sloane numerous books of birds, fish, flowers, and shells and his miscellaneous museum consisting of curiosities, miniatures, insects, medals, animals, minerals, precious stones and curiosities in amber.

Sloane purchased Leonard Plukenet 's collection in It consisted of twenty-three volumes with over 8, plants from Africa, India, Japan and China. Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort — , left him a twelve-volume herbarium from her gardens at Chelsea and Badminton upon her death in Reverend Adam Buddle gave Sloane thirteen volumes of British plants. Philip Miller gave him twelve volumes of plants grown from the Chelsea Physic Garden.

John Tradescant the elder circa s— was a gardener, naturalist, and botanist in the employ of the Duke of Buckingham. He collected plants, bulbs, flowers, vines, berries, and fruit trees from Russia, the Levant, Algiers, France, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and the East Indies.

His son, John Tradescant the younger — traveled to Virginia in and collected flowers, plants, shells, an Indian deerskin mantle believed to have belonged to Powhatan , father of Pocahontas. Father and son, in addition to botanical specimens, collected zoological e. By the s, the Tradescants displayed their eclectic collection at their residence in South Lambeth. Tradescant's Ark, as it came to be known, was the earliest major cabinet of curiosity in England and open to the public for a small entrance fee.

Elias Ashmole — was a lawyer, chemist, antiquarian, Freemason , and a member of the Royal Society with a keen interest in astrology , alchemy , and botany. The body of evidence pointed to possible serial killings that occurred well over a hundred years ago. And were the recent murders of chillingly similar methods the result of a copycat killer, or something even more sinister? The story that unfolded henceforth was utterly absorbing and even downright creepy sometimes. As with the first two books, we have a handful of character POVs which include a science expert from the Museum archaeology over biology this time , a journalist and a police officer.

I was initially resigned to the fact that we are going to remain fairly detached from Pendergast. Without giving anything away, I must say that this man is, without a doubt, fascinating and unorthodox. For a thriller of this size, pacing needs to be pretty on point to keep the reader engaged. In this respect, I found the novel to be practically unputdownable. With a vivid prose that described late 19th century New York with a haunting atmosphere and the bizarreness of the cabinet of curiosities of old, the narrative lends itself to being spine-chilling at all the right times.

The authors are also adept at delivering a suspenseful climax, in spite of the predictability of the outcome. Even then, I cannot shake off the sense of frisson and anxiety as the final, climactic chapters were unravelled. The only issue I have with this novel is once again the idiot-police-captain trope. It is getting a bit old, in my opinion. I suppose it can be viewed to be a sort of comic relief to the grim proceedings, but I was mildly put-off instead of humoured.

This review can also be found at Booknest View all 15 comments. Oct 03, J. This is such an impressive novel. I gave it a 5 star. Not many of those on my list, but I gave Relic a 4 and the only way to up that was a 5. I'm a little surprised at myself for the rating. This is a very good read and I have it on my shelf. I obtained it after listening to the audio in a vehicle. I only do that if I figure I'll possibly reread at some point. The atmosphere in this book combined with the imaginative story line is, if not great, just short of it.

These books seem to have a largely female readership No reason for that guys. They're well done and this one is in my mind the best so far. They're not mystery genre but border on several genres from there to paranormal I recommend this one especially very highly. While the story edges along the border of horror and touches other story lines you may have seen elsewhere still, within it's own reality things hold together well. View all 4 comments. Feb 16, Kirsten rated it it was amazing Shelves: Sadly, I've now read all of the Pendergast novels, at least until the new one comes out this summer.

Fortunately, I seem to have inadvertantly saved the best for last! Cabinet of Curiosities is definitely my favorite of all of them. At a construction site in New York City, workers unearth more than thirty skeletons, evidence of a serial killer operating more than years ago. Soon afterward, a chilling series of copycat murders are perpetrated by a killer dubbed The Surgeon by the press.

2/2 Wondrous Obsessions: The Cabinet of Curiosities - Secret Knowledge

Agent Sadly, I've now read all of the Pendergast novels, at least until the new one comes out this summer. Agent Pendergast believes that there is a connection; in fact, he thinks the killings are the work of one man operating for more than a century This definitely kept my adrenaline going; I read it during my commute, and I kept having to put it down at seriously crucial moments, which led to me chomping at the bit to finish work so I could find out what happened next.

It's totally the literary equivalent of a good scary movie -- you find yourself mentally shouting, "No! Don't go in there! Aug 21, Terry rated it it was amazing Shelves: Special Agent Pendergast is such a fun, mysterious and always interesting character. I enjoyed getting more of his background in this installment.


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Thanks to Ginger and Matthew for the fun buddy read! View all 5 comments. This time it's closet to home when tearing down structures for new business reveals hidden bones and horrors beneath cement walls, telling a tragic story of the past. A modern killer is up to no good, however, bringing out Special Agent Pendergast, returning character journalist Bill Smithback, and struggling archaeologist Nora Kelly.

While the mystery angle is different, this book has a lot in common with the previous two, Relic and Reliquary because of so much time spent in the museum, using similar research to unearth mystery, and trailing New York City to unmask a killer. Unlike the other two, Pendergast is more front and center focus. There's something about the detective that's addictive - he's unique and in some cases downright odd.


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He has an almost unrealistic uncanny ability to determine the truth of the matter and smooth his way past conventional legal channels. Still, even if he's not wholly realistic, he's just awesome and steals every page scene he graces. Kudos to the author for making him more of a focus and regular. He stood out in the other books but he just wasn't there enough before.

As inhuman and otherly than he could appear in previous books, he gets a fuller fleshing out this time, even with glimpses of his personal life and family. The new addition of a down-on-his-luck cop was a gift. O'Shaughnessy was my favorite when you remove Pendergast from the story. At first he seemed like he would be another one layered addition to the corrupt, laziness of the system, but it's a pleasant surprise to find instead that he was pretty epic in his own, slower manner. The killer is a demented being and the big reveal of what's at stake is intriguing.

It certainly raises the implications of this being another mass murderer killing for mere psychosis out of the bag. There's a horrible death at the end that soured the taste of the of the book for me, though - I was just sitting there with a no, they didn't go there face. Cleverly twisted with suspenseful spots, I can't fault the mystery story itself other than the pacing of the book lagging, waxing and waning at random times. I started getting weighed down with Nora and Bill especially.

I think if a lot of the scenes with Bill were removed, the book would have improved its pacing and interest because he went from annoying to boring. Nora wasn't really that interesting either - I dug some of her inner political struggles and liked how the ending of the book worked out for her, but she didn't hold a high degree of chemistry with me.

Cabinet of curiosities

The mystery element isn't bad and I enjoyed learning about the Cabinet of Curiosities, but the book was weighed down by inconsistent pacing. If it were shorter, it would have worked better. View all 6 comments. Jun 04, Jaya rated it really liked it Shelves: One of the most creepiest books that i might have happened to have read in a long time. After a horrible discovery of a XIX century churnel house made by construction workers, people start dying.

The manner of these recent deaths is the same as the old murders, so the press gave the killer a name - The Surgeon. Considering how weird all this is, it is no wonder Pendergast gets involved. There is a lot of him in this book. I have a feeling this book tried to cram as much as incompetent and corrupt people as it it possible.

It certainly wins the prize so far. The first two had their o After a horrible discovery of a XIX century churnel house made by construction workers, people start dying. The first two had their own bureaucrats and jerks, but here it is a whole new level of ass-kissing, ruining other people or harassing normal ones.

I am not satisfied how that played out. I cannot write more about it or I'll ruin the part of the story. I don't have to write about how I love Pendergast either. If he was a bit of omniscient before, here he gets another, more human layer to his personality. We are allowed to see just how much human he is. His part in all this was great, albeit still insufficient for me to be satisfied.

Cabinet of curiosities

Still, the manner we get more, but still not enough, information about him is a good way to keep readers interested. Of the three people involved in previous cases, only the journalist remained. I wish he too left somewhere. Authors usually reserve TSTL moments for their female characters. Here, I am happy or unhappy as the case may be to report Smithback could give those heroines run for their money. God, he was so stupid he almost ruined the story. There wasn't a single thing he did here to make me even like, let alone love him. He acted childish and selfish and even if he had those 'qualities' before, here they are more pronounced.

The second person Pendergast enlists to help him is an archaeologist Nora Kelly, Smithback's girlfriend. The authors can't show the chemistry between the characters, so we get quite a few sentences telling us how he loves her. I don't mind romantic angle to a story. I like it even, but here it was out of place. She could have been just an archaeologist who just met them and it would still be the same story. And she wasn't really likeable either. The first part of the story she is wining about her job, then she gets angry for whatever reason.

Margo Green and D'Acosta, they are not. Anyway, it isn't that pronounced to mess up the story. The too long meditation that looks like time travel or a vivid dream would work in a film, but here they threw me in something that seemed like a different story. That, and one time it was even unbelievable considering the place the characters doing it were in. Parts of this story were too hard to read. The suffering and the waiting were dragged a bit. I still enjoyed it though and would recommend this series to anyone who likes a thriller seasoned with weirdness.

Feb 16, kartik narayanan rated it really liked it. The Cabinet of Curiosities is an excellent serial killer based story. It is creepy, tense and intelligent. It has all the trademarks of this series - great writing, subtle humour, brilliant characters and an intricate mystery. The Cabinet of Curiosities gives us a far deeper look into Pendergast than either of the previous books. He reminded me of Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock with his mannerisms, memory palace and coterie of smart assistants.

I wonder how much inspiration Mark Gatis took fro The Cabinet of Curiosities is an excellent serial killer based story.

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I wonder how much inspiration Mark Gatis took from Pendergast when creating Sherlock - I am sure there would have been some influence at the least. In conclusion, this is a great read. Oct 12, Emma rated it really liked it Shelves: Definitely the best in the series so far. Gradually we are learning more about Pendergast. These authors know how to write a suspenseful story! Two nights in a row I was unable to carry on reading because I was finding it creepy and I didn't think I'd be able to sleep if I read any more. And I read quite a lot of grimdark and horror type books.

I enjoyed the history in this book too. An all round thoroughly entertaining read. View all 3 comments. Nov 04, midnightfaerie rated it did not like it Shelves: Throughout this book I wondered why it was so revered in the mystery world. My husband picked up this copy almost a year ago for me and has been waiting patiently ever since for me to read it. After reading a particularly taxing book, I was looking for something lighter and exciting to read, so I picked this up. I'm still somewhat confused as to all the five star ratings on Goodreads, and if someone The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child was a huge disappointment to me.

I'm still somewhat confused as to all the five star ratings on Goodreads, and if someone would like to explain it to me, I'd very much appreciate it. So this book starts with your usual mystery type characters. A beautiful heroine, Nora, who is smart and sexy because this is such an unusual quality and ends up being drawn into a year-old mystery because she just "can't seem to stay away" from it.

Do you hear the sarcasm? Then you have your typical Sherlock Holmes-type-character, Pendergast, the FBI agent, who just doesn't quite pull off the arrogant and intelligent Holmes. Instead he comes off as non-talkative and moody. Then we have Smithback, the annoying - yes, really annoying - journalist who will stop at nothing to get the story stop me if you've heard this one , and ends up getting himself in trouble. He left me wondering why Nora was dating him and wishing he could have died in some fantastically gory way.

That leaves the brooding Irish cop, O'Shaughnessy, who was a walking cliche with his annoyed-at-everything attitude and bad boy past. He was actually my favorite character. I won't go too much into the plot, it's pretty straight forward. A lot of bodies are found at a construction site to a new building. They turn out to be the work of a killer almost years ago and are almost forgotten when suddenly the killings start up again. The idiot police captain is being pressured by the mayor and the building contractor who, of course, donates a lot of money to various causes that affect key players to get these murders solved quickly.

While the police force stumbles around with loose ends, the four main characters I described earlier come together to start piecing together clues and eventually solving the mystery. I found nothing exciting or interesting about this book. Some mysteries do well in following the standard type mystery plot, but this one fell short.

There were some truly disgusting scenes coupled with some suspenseful moments that made me feel like I was reading a horror at times, but those were few and far between. When I finally found out who the killer was, I discovered that not only had I not even been trying to guess who it was I do this in all good mysteries , but also, that I just didn't care. I wanted this page book with some excitement in the last pages to finally end.

The Cabinet of Curiosities

In my husband's, and Preston's and Child's defense, this was not the first book of the series. My husband and I often share similar tastes in mystery and he had read several of these and wanted me to try one. He realizes now, that maybe he should have picked a different one. Although you don't have to read them in order, there might have been some more build-up or explanations of characters, such as the initial chemistry between Nora and Smithback in earlier books that might have made it more enjoyable for me.

In any case, this review is getting too long for a book I really didn't enjoy. The best thing about it were two things. First, the last pages held all the excitement for me. And second, the book is centered around these people from years ago that used to have these things called "Cabinets of Curiosities". It was the entertainment of the age. The descriptions and history behind these and some of the things they contained, as well as their strange collectors, were the most interesting part of the book. For that, I give it a little credit. May 26, Shawn rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a great book and the best stand alone book of the series.

With great research into the underworld of New York city, the environment for this novel is incredible both equally spooky as well as fascinating. This is the first true Pendergast novel. Up until than he has been one character in a cast of characters, now for really the first time, he is the focus of the novel. And he easily carries the novel, the character himself and his family history are fascinating. This also begins to elude This is a great book and the best stand alone book of the series.

This also begins to elude to future novels specifically the Diogenes trilogy. Another great read from one of the best pair of authors around! Yes, THAT was the worst part of this book. When I was reading about his "super powers" I thought something like: Is that Marvel or something? Meditation, ability to experience historical events and play chess or bridge in the mind. Add to this incredible stamina and nearly absolute resistance to a Super Pendergast returns! Add to this incredible stamina and nearly absolute resistance to a pain and you have our Super Hero. I swear, in next books he'll be flying and killing hordes of Mbwuns with his laser sight.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Ah, and remember children: Nearly the whole police contains only mentally retarded, arrogant morons and we'll be lost without Super Pender. So, why three stars? I like the plot more than the poor something which wants to be a plot in Reliquary. Less horror, more mystery in this tome.

I'm not regretting reading the Cabinet of Curiosities. The only thing that really was irritating me was Super Pendergast. I know, this series isn't rational and realistic, but when authors create their main character as powerful, invincible superman, something inside me say NO. May 12, Angie rated it it was amazing Shelves: I loved this book and it was even better as agent Pendergst was in it from the beginning.

I can definitely recomend it Cabinets to be exact. In these you learn quite a bit of history. I found it fascinating.