Hidden Collections. Topographies of Early Modern Collections (Halle, Leipzig, Dresden)

The whole universe at a glance: the Wunderkammer of the Francke Foundations with the world model in the foreground and over 3000 other curiosities.

Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities can be regarded as the historical basis of modern museum culture. Since the 16th century, princes, wealthy citizens and later academies have collected objects representing the state of knowledge about the world known at that time. With the rarities and curiosities, the owners displayed their knowledge as well as their prosperity.

Since the 1990s, these collections have been explored with methodologically different approaches. So far, however, Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities in Europe have not been systematically identified and catalogued. The verifiable collections - both preserved and non-preserved - are now, for the first time, being uniformly processed, schematically arranged and, if possible, reconstructed. The project aims to provide an overview of the various variants of this type of collection and thus carries out basic research into the intellectual, cultural and scientific history of the early modern period.

The research project is financed and carried out equally by the Francke Foundations in Halle and the Leopoldina Centre for the Study of Science. For the Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, too, had collected an important collection of natural objects over many decades, but this was lost when the Academy moved to Bonn in 1818. More than 20 members of the Leopoldina also possessed collections, some of which were very extensive and of international importance.