A cabinet of curiosities, it is the ideal solution to stage at home his favorite objects. Whether it’s unique pieces from the natural sciences or the world of science as tradition dictates, or simply from your favorite objects to renew the genre in a contemporary way, discover how to highlight them and transform your bazaar. dust in a unique decor!
A cabinet of curiosities, what are we all about?
The appearance of cabinets of curiosities in the period of the Renaissance, during which European scholars boasted to gather and make discover their visitors unusual objects, even unique. It was then a question of exposing all kinds of scientific, ethnic or naturalistic finds and putting them in scene to astonish and entertain.
The elements were selected for their strangeness or rarity, and belonged to the following four genera:
The naturalia genre which brings together elements from nature such as amazing shells, stuffed animals, etc.
The scientifica genre with elements from the world of science such as globes, instruments used in astronomy or biology …
The exotica genre in which you can find curiosities from afar like exotic plants.
The kind artificiala that brings together unusual or artistic objects created by humans.
Where to set up my cabinet of curiosities?
Recreating a cabinet of curiosities at home requires a strong taste for staging. Poorly exposed, your items and collections will lose their effect and you will not get the desired effect on your visitors. On the contrary, they must be enhanced by creating an appropriate decor.
Depending on the size and quantity of the objects you want to exhibit, there are several solutions available to you.The living room is often the room chosen to install a cabinet of curiosities because this is where you receive your guests, but an office or a corridor can also be good solutions. Generally, it is important not to disperse the objects but rather to gather them on a chimney, on a shelf, in a library or a showcase.
If you have many pieces to exhibit, you can dedicate an entire wall to your collection, or even a complete piece! You will then be at the head of a real small museum where to let free your imagination. Ask yourself also about the preciousness or the fragility of your objects. Should they be handled or protected under a bell or showcase?
What decor for my cabinet of curiosities?
Traditionally, cabinets of curiosities respect a set of aesthetic codes, but nothing prevents you from inventing yours to enhance your findings.The most classic will opt for a background in a dark shade (gray, black, burgundy, petrol blue …) that brings out the objects on display, and for exhibition accessories in copper, blackened wood, dark velvet, brass or glass. Bells and flasks will dramatize the small elements, as well as the velvet boxes or the aged gold frames, while the old mirrors will be perfect for multiplying the most singular objects or expanding a fledgling collection.
These accessories are not essential but help to dramatize your collection and attract the attention of visitors. If you opt for a more modern style, still think of using particular containers and decor that contribute to the charm of the whole and transform sparse objects into a real cabinet of curiosities worthy of interest.
What objects to exhibit in a classic cabinet of curiosities?
Let your collection be formed according to your findings, then it will be to arrange the different elements to give everyone the place it deserves. A beautiful collection is above all an accumulation of varied pieces:
Vary the subjects : scientific instruments (telescopes, phials, test tubes …), entomological boxes, skeletons, fossils, rare books, scientific plates, corals, peacock feather, stuffed animals …
Play on the size and volume of objects : cards, miniature subjects, imposing trophies …
Use different exposure modes : framed topics, sub-bell, bottled, wall, stand, etc.
Look for the exceptional: better a rare piece than half a dozen objects easy to find. Over time you will refine your research and find the rare pearls. Eat flea markets and antique shops and feel free to let people know that you are looking for special items.Also think of flea markets, and do not neglect the chance, a walk in the nature could bring you the skin of reptile, the amazing seashell or the fossil that you seek!
A cabinet of curiosities revisited in contemporary fashion
Cranes and herbaria are not your cup of tea? No problem, because nothing prevents you from exposing your favorite contemporary objects like a cabinet of curiosities. Whether it’s travel souvenirs, your favorite Harry Potter edition, origami topics, your camera collection or Star Wars miniatures, anything that’s worthy of interest deserves to be on display. !
You can even revisit the codes of the cabinet of curiosities in an offbeat way, with trophies of stuffed animals, fake hooked organs, dishes with botanical motifs, framed serigraphs … Think about the reproductions of works with motifs classics such as those of Fornasetti, with special vinyl pockets, or with printing and old signs.
A few tips on how to highlight your objects
The risk when setting up a cabinet of curiosities is to transform the piece or piece of furniture into a shambles. To avoid this clutter despite the accumulation of objects, always balance the compositions, alternating small and large elements, to create a rhythm for the one who looks. The objects must attract attention one after the other, reveal themselves on different levels … Do not hesitate to mix obvious pieces (bottle of perfume, porcelain subject, glass object) with other less known ones which only reveal their mystery after a closer look.
If you choose to display your findings in a library in the middle of the books, vary the compositions: rows and stacks of books, objects gathered in small groups rather than scattered in a homogeneous way, empty spaces to let breathe all … Choose the most beautiful books and present them frontally to highlight their cover, or open to draw attention to a detail.
If you opt for a wall decoration, vary the shape and size of frames, add unframed items (trophies, dried flowers, small hanging objects, pinned photos …) and be sure to pace your installation to not give an impression of uniform clutter.
Never lose sight of the things you have to talk about and tell a story. A cabinet of curiosities, as its name suggests, must not only be aesthetic, but also surprise. Ideally, each visitor will be attracted by different objects, and will discover new nuggets at each visit. So have fun, test some compositions, change everything and start again until you find the perfect balance!