The shift from a purposefully and playfully disordered Kunstkammer to the well-ordered Enlightenment museum is known. What has yet to be explored fully is the process through which this transformation on occurred. This two-day workshop will investigate the role of learned societies in that transformation between England and German-speaking lands, focusing on the relatively understudied period from the foundation of the Leopoldina as a medical association (1652) to the start of the Royal Society Presidency of Joseph Banks (1778). It will explore why it was that physicians seemed to have such a seminal role in collecting and connoisseurship in both regions.

Did medics in the Leopoldina, the Society of Antiquaries in London and the Royal Society have similar collecting practices, strategies, and underlying reasons for collecting? What were their contributions to the creation of wonder cabinets and early museums, as well as their development of norms of connoisseurship and classification of knowledge?

Participants will engage with the archives of the Leopoldina and the Francke Foundation’s extant Kunst- und Naturalienkammer (art and natural history cabinet) in Halle, a rare survivor from the 17th century.

This workshop is part of a networking grant award from the AHRC: Collective Wisdom: Collecting in the Early Modern Academy.
Principal Investigator: Anna Marie Roos
Co-Investigator: Vera Keller

Programme Collective Wisdom(PDF, 565 kB)