Cabinet of Curiosities

June 2, 2011

At the end of every research week I have an assortment of interesting bits I find on the web, but have nowhere to share them.  Creating this small post gives me a depository for extra information that I can share with my readers.

University of Wyoming Digital Herbaria
This collection contains plant specimens dating from the late 1800’s, recently digitized and put into an online database, searchable by type, genus, offering 1669 specimens currently.  Using Google Map technology to identify locations of species and expandable images, this is an excellent resource for any writer searching for that elusive bit of flora information crucial to a story point.  University of Wyoming Digital Collections

JJ Grandville, 1803-1847, French caricaturist and cartoonist, enjoys renewed interest on the worldwide web thanks to Andy Saurus.  This collection of drawings is taken from two German books, Grandville I and II, featuring animals, political satire, and death comes calling. The small thumbnails only give you a taste of what each picture has in store for your imagination.

Foundling Voices from the Foundling Museum is a digital collection of memories, photographs from the Foundling Hospital covering the years 1739-1954.  A rich depository of the orphan experience not only from the child’s point of view, but also the parent.  Notes, trinkets and swatches of cloth give the site an emotional connection to the life of an orphan.  London’s first home for abandoned children, funded through a campaign by philanthropist Thomas Coram, artist William Hogarth and composer George Frederic Handel,  a meticulous archive includes Baptism Registers, Inspection Books, Nursery Books and Apprenticeship Registers, and a catalog of the hospital archive.  Researchers in family history can find information on lost family foundlings, and any writer looking to include the orphan experience will be thrilled with the information and oral histories provided here.  Foundling Museum

The Venice Biennale takes place this week, displaying the latest cutting-edge art, but a collection of 400 year-old canvases is also on display. Three paintings from Jacopo Tintoretto moves the Biennale out of their comfort zone.  The emphasis is to provide stimulation to new and original expressions in today’s art, a market some consider overrun with repetition.  These priceless works will be restored through funds from the Biennale Foundation, to be displayed later this year with the three other pieces from Tintoretto’s “St. Mark’s Cycle”, at the Gallierie dell’Accademia.  Venice Biennale

A great research project came to light this week, Tracing Bosch and Bruegel, Four Paintings Magnified.  The goal of the research is to discover the origin and inventor of the composition using infrared imaging, x-radiography, and pigment sampling to gain information on the art market of the 16th century Netherlands, providing a historical perspective on the practice of making copies and replicas in this period.  The four paintings can be ascribed to the most innovative and influential artists of the day, Hieronymus Bosch, 1450-1516, or Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1527-1569, who in the 16th century was nicknamed ‘the second Bosch’.  Tracing Bosch and Bruegel

The Musee d’Orsay, a bastion of impressionism style ranging from 1848 and 1914, includes sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and paintings.  Countless styles influenced each other during this period reflecting not only the art, but scientific mediums as well.  Witness to the relentless progress of the day and displayed in a former train station the collection offers a unified display for its large diversity of volumes.  An interactive floor plan allows the virtual visitor to explore without knowledge of what is available, allowing a surprise for the senses with each click of the mouse.  Musee d’Orsay

The Hispanic Society Museum and Library is one of the hidden gems I found through @MuseumNerd on Twitter.  It houses not only an El Greco, but also a Velazquez, Portrait of a Little Girl (1638).  The collection covers early Spain, Medieval Art, the Golden Age and Modern Art.  Housed in the Beaux-Arts building on Audubon Terrace, the society, founded in 1904 by Archer Milton Huntington, is a free museum and reference library for the study of arts and cultures of Spain, Portugal and Latin America.  Hispanic Society Museum and Library

A unique survivor of old New York is the Merchant’s House museum.  Home to a prosperous family for almost 100 years, showing complete furnishings, decorative objects and memorabilia while giving a rare glimpse in to domestic life during the mid-19th century when New York City was transformed from a colonial seaport into a thriving metropolis.  The website offers a 3-d, panoramic view of the rooms, giving excellent reference to the living situation of the times for any writer or artist.  An interesting tab on ghosts and paranormal experiences at the house give an added dimension of possibilities.  The Merchant’s Museum

Beginning in May, 2011, Yale University began offering free online access to images of millions of objects housed in its museums, archives and libraries in accordance with a new ‘open access’ policy.  Rubens to Blake, Mozart original scores, the Book of Hours, Hieroglyphs from Egypt, and maps from Francis Drake are now accessible within the collection.  The Digital Commons contains 1,464,694 unique items ranging from Paleontology to Coins.  Yale University Digital Commons

Do you have any interesting sites that offer inspiration or research opportunities?  Please share them in the comments!  I am always looking for new places to visit.

Until next time,
Mary Jo



Filed under June

4 responses to “Cabinet of Curiosities

  1. Great roundup! Can’t wait to peruse the Yale Digital Commons, although it may take awhile to go through all 1.4 million items.
    Thanks MJ 🙂

  2. How do you find this stuff? I’m a total research buff, especially art and archaeology. I’m almost afraid to visit the Yale Digital Commons, in case I forget to got to work or something!

  3. I just load up my facebook or twitter with museum links, and it writes itself. My brother is the librarian at the University of Wyoming, but all my entries mostly stems from my own interests. I don’t think I would ever close the tab on my Yale Digital Commons page, so much to see in just a lifetime!

  4. Pingback: Blog Treasures 6-4 « Gene Lempp's Blog

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