I have a Cabinet of Curiosities and it intrigues just about everyone who visits my home.
My Cabinet of Curiosities brings me joy on many levels. First, I have always loved nature, even dead nature like shark teeth, mice skulls, feathers, and dried insects. Second, I have always loved museums, especially Natural Science and History museums. Third, I have always felt like found items were like treasures, special, secret gifts to me.
True story: once I was walking along a Florida beach and I prayed that God would give me a special gift from the sea. Within minutes, I noticed something ahead of me in the surf. As I approached it I saw that it was a nautilus shell. Complete, unbroken, beautiful shell. I bent to pick it up and a creature shot out of it leaving its ink in its wake. I felt terrible about dislodging the tenant but I was in awe of the beautiful shell. That was a gift! Of course, it went into the Cabinet.
Before I had the Ikea cabinet that I have now, I used the old china cabinet that was part of my grandmother’s dining room suite. I have always had something, a bookshelf, a tabletop, a mantle, anything to display the little bits of “treasure” I found along the way.
When I became a mother, my kids would give me a little bit of paper with a stick figure portrait, a pipe cleaner animal, a blown and decorated egg, a rock, a cicada exoskeleton, a feather and any number of incredible odd and beautiful items. Those things were precious not only because they were gifts but because they gave me a glimpse inside the mind and heart of my child.
Eventually, friends and other family members noticed my penchant for collecting things and they would bring back shells from Bermuda, water from a lake in Ireland, sand from the Mediterranean and most recently some black lava rocks from Iceland.
When I ran out of room in the cabinet, the porch railing became the geological display for rocks and shells and dried insects. The kitchen window became the pop-culture display for small toys like Chewbacca and Princess Leia or a replica of The Ark of The Covenant that my son made out of Legos. Too good to be torn apart.
When I went through my mid-life purge before our move, my Cabinet of Curiosities became a Cabinet of Treasures. Now that my kids are grown, the cabinet houses old school trophies and ribbons, graduation caps and still a few of those childhood treasures that I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of.
My grandboys LOVE the cabinet and they are always trying to find a way to get into it. Some of their gifts to me have already made it into the cabinet and I anticipate it being filled to capacity pretty soon.
I’m thinking of giving the trophies and ribbons back to their recipients and making it more of a Cabinet of Curiosities or a Cabinet of Wonder again.
A Cabinet of Curiosities is not a new thing or something I came up with. In fact, it was quite common throughout history. It was not strange for a person who had the money and time to curate a collection to have a complete room dedicated to their collection of curiosities or wonders. These rooms and often cabinets were the precursors to museums. The most common collections were made up of natural specimens like preserved butterflies and insects, archeological, historical and religious artifacts, and geological collections.
Photo from Wikipedia
These collections could give the curators social status depending on how exotic their collections were. Cabinets of Curiosities were also perfect for entertaining. And sometimes these collections could edge into the realm of the freakish and macabre which is what most people might think of when a Cabinet of Curiosity is mentioned.
However, Cabinets of Curiosities have offered people an opportunity to wonder and marvel at the beauty of nature and the intrigue of history. It is a form of educational entertainment. And is an old and wonderful hobby.
Photo from Mental Floss
So, on to curating my collection. I need to clean and do some research on my newly acquired coins.