The Victorian Cabinet of Curiosities

We think today of the word ‘cabinet’ as being a piece of furniture, but it was originally a word used to describe a room.

Cabinets of Curiosity can be covered by both of these, they can be both a piece of furniture and a room. They have been around for many years and at least back until 16th Century.

We when display items today, they might be one or two placed together on a shelf with the rest of the space being left empty. This is not what Cabinets of Curiosity were in Victorian Times.

Back in Victorian time people liked to collect unusual items and oddities. They could include natural specimens such as fossils, artefacts and taxidermy. They weren’t however limited to this and could basically include anything of interest including coins, medical paraphenalia, scientific instruments and oil lamps.

The idea was to display items showing the diversity of a particular area of interest all together like a mini museum, and they were indeed a precurser to museums as we know them today. They could also be classed as a mini encyclopaedia designed to illuminate and educate as well as entertain.

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