The practice of maintaining a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ evolved during the Renaissance. Such cabinets were the collectors’ rooms mostly of wealthy nobles in which rare phenomena of nature, scientific instruments and curiosita were preserved. Today these objects have been distributed to different museums that have become the successors to the cabinet of curiosities around the globe.
In Berlin, the Wunderkammer Olbricht reanimates the tradition of curiosity cabinets. It houses a fascinating collection, containing items like the legendary unicorn horn (the tusk of a narwhal), an amber mirror, a coconut chalice that was owned by explorer Alexander von Humboldt and which is adorned with images of Brazilian cannibals, or wooden cabinets filled with small skulls and skeletons, the so-called Tödchen, “deadlies”, which served as memento mori. I can spend hours here, discovering and rediscovering all the tiny items on display.
The Wunderkammer is part of the ‘me Collectors Room’, a platform for international private art collections, and admission always gives you access to the current exhibition as well as to the permanently installed Wunderkammer.