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Cabinet of Art and Curiosity

The Cabinet of Art and Curiosity
At the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art


European Cabinets of Art and Curiosity were places of universal learning in the 16th and 17th centuries. Cabinets like these featured diverse objects–natural specimens, great works of art, scientific instruments, and exotic curiosities—representing the search for knowledge and illustrating mankind’s place in the universe. They were the museums of their time, offering visitors first-hand knowledge of the far-away world through objects they could see with their own eyes, and touch with their own hands.

In September 2015 the Wadsworth Atheneum revealed its own Cabinet of Art and Curiosity during the celebrated Grand Reopening of its newly renovated and reinstalled European art galleries. The cabinet, which fills in one entire gallery, is an immersive, interactive environment. There are no labels on the walls or in cases to interrupt the viewing experience, but guests eager to delve deep can use the cabinet’s Field Guide, a mobile tour, or the gallery’s digital touch screens to find detailed information about each fascinating object. Visitors can even use the touch screens to create their own virtual Cabinet of Art and Curiosity in an educational, interactive game.

The Wadsworth Atheneum’s Cabinet of Art and Curiosity holds over 200 awe-inspiring objects. You can see some of them by clicking the thumbnail images below, or further your exploration by browsing the complete set of digital object labels.




The Cabinet of Art and Curiosity has been made possible in part by a major grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.




Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition
do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.