The discussion today about the curio-cabinet, or as I learned about it in my museum studies classes, the cabinets of curiosities, was very interesting to me. One of the required classes for my Specialization in Museum Studies is the ‘Foundations in Museum Studies’. This class taught us about the formation of museums. These curio-cabinets did not only form in Europe, they also came to America with those who migrated to the new world. This is how museums began to appear in the United States as well. The wealthiest of the Americans began to host parties to show off their wonderful collections to their friends. Then, they began to charge small amounts of money for a walk through their homes to observe their cabinets of curiosity.
Another part of the lecture today that was very fascinating to me was Napoleon’s invasion. I was unaware of the massive impact that Napoleon had on the beginning of museums and Egyptian archaeology. I would have never guessed that he would have hand chosen 167 scientists to record the land and its objects throughout their invasion of Malta and Egypt. Without his interest in ancient Egypt, so much information on the landscape, people and their objects would have been lost for all time. The vast knowledge the recorded in the 24 volumes of the ‘Description de L’Egypt’ written by the scientists hired by Napoleon, published in 1809 has lasted into the 21st century. I am having a hard time accepting the fact that if he didn’t enjoy learning about ancient Egyptians, our current knowledge of their history would be so much less.
The last point mentioned in the class was about the development of the first cultural heritage laws. I am interested to learn about what exactly these laws are and how they have persisted to this day and age. Also, if they have been altered, how and why did they amend them?