Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities

3000 Wonders of the World
Exhibition

Ansicht des Bekrönungsmotivs vom Tierschrank in der Wunderkammer mit dem Kopf des Krokodils, das von der Decke hängt.

Welcome! You enter our mysterious treasure chamber in the former orphan boys' dormitory in the Historic Orphanage. In the first mansard roof in the region, the whole world fits into one room. For 300 years ago, more than 3,000 wondrous and curious objects from near and far were gathered together to teach the children of the school town about the infinite variety of divine creation. All kinds of oddities can be discovered here: a mouse embryo as well as a tattooed fish or the rib of a whale, a fossilised Hungarian cheese and even a Chinese lady's shoe. A mighty Nile crocodile hangs from the ceiling, stuffed with straw, as was customary at the time the collection was created. The objects are arranged in cabinets whose splendid painting is reminiscent of Arcimboldo. Shells, animals or rocks can thus be found very quickly in the collection.

Even today, our cabinet of curiosities amazes young and old. It is considered the only completely preserved Baroque cabinet of curiosities in Germany and shows unchanged the original museum concept of the 18th century. At that time, all areas of life and all fields of knowledge were considered in context for the first time. The natural history collection follows the pioneering approaches of Carl von Linné, whose systematisation paved the way for modern biology. The naturalia are juxtaposed with the extensive art collection, whose artefacts from India and America reflect the impressive cosmopolitanism of the Halle orphanage.

As the only European Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities of the Baroque period, the Francke Foundations' collection has been completely preserved and can still be visited today in its authentic location and with its historical furnishings. »The uniqueness of the Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities of the Francke Foundations lies in the fact that all the basic components of the original Baroque Cabinet of Curiosities have been preserved: more than 3,000 objects from the fields of art and life, the perfectly fitting collection cabinets of the chamber with their impressive colourful crown paintings, the original room in the former dormitory of the Historical Orphanage as well as the museum-theoretical concept of presentation based on the 18th century catalogues,« explains the Director of the Francke Foundations Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller-Bahlke. On 12 October 1995, he, as archivist and historian, was able to reopen the Cabinet in its original location after extensive research of sources.

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Der Frauenzimmerschuh

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Visitors are always fascinated by the collection of women's shoes in display-cupboard 14, the clothing cupboard. Were the Pietists interested in fashion? And which woman's shoe was pulled off her foot?

Der Indienschrank

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The India Cupboard shows many exciting objects. Our Indian volunteer Mercy Rethna describes the hand fans made of palm leaves and a hand drum in the film.

Das Heilige Grab

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Hidden in the Religion Cabinet is a small wooden model decorated with ivory and mother-of-pearl. Art historian Anne Schröder-Kahnt presents the model of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and also has a guess as to how it came into the collection.

Die Rochenhautfigur

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Is it an extinct animal or perhaps a dragon made by human hands? Learn about the exciting history of the figure and the way rays are processed, which is strange to us today.

Die Geduldsflasche

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The oldest patience bottle in the collection shows an entire mine scene on two levels in square glass. Miners, tools of the trade, the framework of the tunnel and all the rocks have passed through the neck of the bottle - an admirable game of patience for long winter evenings.

Die Muskogeepfeife

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A pipe made of soapstone from the 18th century lets the imagination blossom when visiting the collection. However, people never smoked here. There is a connection to the Salzburg exiles and the Halle pastors in North America.

Das Pferdemodell

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Feeding, riding, pulling carriages, all this is still played with in many children's rooms today and often the dream of a real horse farm also matures here. Our horse probably served as a model in school lessons.

Der Medinawurm

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Probably the most inconspicuous wet specimen in the Wunderkammer is not to be underestimated. With the wrong medical treatment, the patient's life was quickly in danger. Our worm tells the medical history of a South Indian schoolboy in the 18th century.

Das Herbarblatt vom großen Zittergras

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The Plant Cabinet is a case for experts. Where does the grass with the beautiful name come from and why is the herbarium leaf found in the Wunderkammer? Our biologist Cornelia Jäger from the plant garden answers all the questions.

Das Waisenhausmodell

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Why was the model of the orphanage displayed in the Orphanage? Was it built as a toy, similar to a doll's house, was it a learning object at August Hermann Francke's schools or did it serve to illustrate the educational cosmos of the Halle Pietists during guided tours?

Die Glasfaserperücke

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A scratchy fibreglass wig in the Wunderkammer poses a mystery. Was it a prototype or was the model popularly worn in the 18th century in the evening so that people did not set their hair on fire from candlelight?

Der Ostindienfahrer

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This is about the large model ship in the middle of the room. Did the East Indiaman have a model, did Halle missionaries perhaps travel with this ship on their way to the South Indies?

Der Jerusalempilger

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The oil painting of the man with the tattoo was long one of the great mysteries of the collection. Who was the man, why does he show his tattoo on his right forearm and why is he part of the collection? Comparable paintings are rare.

The Thalsaline – Halle and salt around 1700

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We have recorded the boiling hut models from our Wunderkammer point by point from the roof to the foundation and transformed them into an interactive 3D model. In a digital story, we invite you to take a tour of Halle as a city of salt boiling in the early modern period.