Cabinets of Curiosity

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Taught for the first time in 2017/18, ‘Cabinets of curiosity: museums past and present’ considers the development of
museums from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century. In this optional level 2 module, students explore both the
history of museums in the British and Irish past and the presentation of history in museums today. They encounter
seventeenth-century elite gardener John Tradescant junior, whose cabinets of curiosity formed the basis of Oxford’s
Ashmolean Museum after his death, a legal battle between his widow Hester and scholar Elias Ashmole, and then
later Hester’s death in suspicious circumstances. And they encounter contemporary museum professionals like
Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History director Nina Simon, described by Smithsonian Magazine in 2010 as a
‘museum visionary’, who advocates for audience participation in museum and exhibition design so that visitors can
leave something of themselves behind.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Specialist publicationReflections
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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