Saturday, 17 November 2007

Burke Museum on the hunt for hidden collections as Cabinet of Curiosities comes to town

14 November 2007

Beechworth’s Burke Museum is on a treasure hunt for weird and wonderful local collections to showcase in the Cabinet of Curiosities, on loan from the National Museum of Australia from January to June next year as part of a national tour.

The museum is keen to hear from any individuals or local organisations with a distinctive, bizarre, ornamental, sentimental or just plain ordinary collection of objects small enough to fit into one of the 35 drawers of the Cabinet.

Burke Museum Collections Officer, Linda Peacock, said the exhibition would provide a fascinating insight into the nature of collecting as well as the community from which the collections will be drawn.

“The items maybe as everyday as a collection of ballet shoes from a local dance company or decks of cards from a local Euchre club. The Cabinet of Curiosities is very much about reflecting the interests and concerns of the community and offering local people the chance to involve themselves directly in the process of curating their own exhibition.”

She said that one of the more unsettling inclusions would be a collection of contraband seized from former inmates of the historic Beechworth Prison. Mostly homemade weapons, these sinister objects are remarkable for their simplicity and sheer ingenuity.

The Cabinet of Curiosities was originally developed for a major exhibition at the National Museum in Canberra. An eccentric pyramid of 35 drawers jutting out at odd angles, it was inspired by the original Wunderkammers - Cabinets of Wonder or wonder-rooms, whose intriguing collections belonged to those aristocrats, monarchs or merchants who could afford to create and maintain them. They were usually made from exotic and expensive materials and often filled with contents and ornamental details intended to reflect the entire cosmos on a miniature scale.

In the 17th Century a Cabinet of Curiosities could contain specimens collected during exploration and trading voyages such as preserved animals, tusks, skeletons, botanical and cultural artefacts.

The Cabinet of Curiosities arrives in Beechworth in January after a successful season at the Albury Library Museum, and ahead of a tour to the Tasmanian Museum and Gallery in Hobart (July – December 2008) and the Pioneer Museum in Zeehan, Tasmania (January – July 2009).

For more information about including a collection in the

Cabinet of Curiosities exhibition in Beechworth, contact

Linda Peacock, Burke Museum, phone (03) 5728 8067

Cabinet of Curiosities

Where: Robert O’Hara Burke Memorial Museum

Address: Loch St, Beechworth
Dates: January – June 2008

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