A Peek into the World of Luxury Cabinets

On view October 25, 2014–February 9, 2015



Unlocking Wonder: A Peek into the World of Luxury Cabinets explores the function of cabinets in Europe and America from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. The cabinets on view evoke luxury and reflect the changing tastes and styles of Renaissance Spain, the Baroque Netherlands, and the pre-Revolutionary American colonies. The objects on display with the cabinets—from ancient gold rings to a seventeenth-century pocket watch and oil paintings by various Baroque artists—reflect the interests of European collectors who stored such treasures in their own personal Kunst- und Wunderkammern, rooms known as “cabinets of art and wonders,” which often contained furniture of the kind featured in this installation.

Unlocking Wonder grew out of a spring 2014 Amherst College research tutorial taught by Nicola Courtright, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the History of Art, and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Mead installation was organized by tutorial participants Sebastian Morales ’16, Claire Castellano ’16, Robert Croll ’16, Martha Morgenthau ’16, and Madeleine Sung ’16, with support from Mead staff including Elizabeth Barker, Stephen Fisher, Sheila Flaherty-Jones, Timothy Gilfillan, Bettina Jungen, and Pamela Russell; and from Sara Smith, Arts and Humanities Librarian, Frost Library. 

Related Event

On Thursday, October 30, at 7:00 p.m., join the student organizers for a closer look inside the exhibition.

For more information about the cabinets visit on the Omeka student project website here.