Artist Rosamond Purcell has long trained her camera lens on museum collections, making acts of organization an integral part of her striking photography and writing, but in a recent installation she set out to physically duplicate one of the most iconic collections.
Ole Worm, a 17th century Danish physician, linguist, and natural philosopher, created one of the first iterations of what we could come to know as the modern museum. The Museum Wormianum cabinet of curiosities in his home, visible in a frontispiece engraving published in a catalogue of the cabinet that came out in 1655 after his death, had everything from specimens of the natural world to scientific instruments to ethnogrpahic objects. It was all aimed not just at being a spectacle, but at being a source of study and understanding. Purcell said she had “looked at the engraving for years and years” and was “just fascinated with what was on the walls and on the shelves and wanted to reproduce it.”