Unique 17th-century Art Cabinet now on the Net
19 January 2009
The Augsburg Art Cabinet from 1632 contained collections of exotic items, new inventions, and technically complicated objects. The Art Cabinet originally belonged to Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus, but it was later donated to Uppsala University. Now this unique universal museum in miniature is also available in a virtual presentation on the Internet.
The Augsburg Art Cabinet is a fabulous work of art, full of drawers and secret compartments. There we find about a thousand objects that were to reflect the knowledge of the 17th century - everything from medical instruments, such as ear ladles and pox glasses to various kinds of games and natural objects, including a desiccated baby crocodile. The cabinet also contained practically useful items, such as a spinet with an automatic playing mechanism, toilet articles, and a travel apothecary. Every surface is filled with decorations and miniature paintings.
It was the Protestant burghers in Augsburg, Germany, who gave the cabinet to Gustavus Adolphus during the Thirty Years' War. It was placed in Uppsala Castle before being donated to Uppsala University in 1694. The Art Cabinet was located in what was then the University Main Building, the present-day Museum Gustavianum, where it now stands once again. A virtual presentation has been available at the museum since last spring, and this is now being uploaded to the Net.
"It's truly exciting to use modern digital technology to show off the Art Cabinet in all its splendor. This is a pioneering achievement in the museum world and represents a tremendous boost for the museum," says Ing-Marie Munktell, head of the museum.
Through the virtual presentation, visitors can look into the interior of the cabinet, study its details, or delve into its history. Museum Gustavianum staff have discussed with upper-secondary schools how the Art Cabinet can be used in teaching. The virtual presentation covers some one hundred of the objects for the time being, the same ones that are on display at the museum.
"Our ambition is to successively add more objects that are in storage today. In other words, it will be possible in the future to see items on the Internet that are not on exhibit at the museum," says Anna Sjögren, project director at Uppsala University Art Collections, Museum Gustavianum.
View the Art Cabinet on the Museum Gustavianum home page.
For more information, please contact Head Curator of the Art Collections Margareta Nisser Dalman, +46-18-471 18 30, cell phone: +46 (0)70-425 07 04; e-mail: Margareta.Nisser@gustavianum.uu.se