November 2, 2012
By Mary Jo Gibson
The Green Vault in Dresden is a unique historic museum that contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe. Throughout the 17th century, these rooms were used by the rulers of Saxon as a private treasure chamber for important documents and jewelry. This Amber Cabinet was made in Konigsberg before 1742. Ten exhibition rooms contain the treasures that Augustus the Strong presented to a select public, establishing the Green Vault as one of Europe’s oldest museums.
This new Cabinet of Curiosities offers many new treats from the internet, a tasty set of individual morsels for your eyes and mind.
First to be served up is The History Blog, where Livius shares an appetizing story on “Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse.” The Wellcome Trust is funding research on Zombie Science, Worse Case Scenario, and a research program on the fate of executed criminals at the University of Leicester. If the zombie mention didn’t get your interest, perhaps the history side of the corpse will be appealing. ‘Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men’ at the Museum of London will feed your mind: the history behind the discovery of a burial ground at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, dating from the time of the Anatomy Act of 1832: body snatchers and grave robbers may sound macabre but the legal loophole stated that a body was not defined as property and couldn’t be stolen, meaning punishment was minimal. If a fresh corpse was worth a month’s wages, many individuals were willing to drop over the cemetery wall. Hungry for more? The museum offers a set of videos under the Adult courses tab; one interesting bit of trivia would be that professional resurrection men would leave the grave exactly as they found it, minus the body, but a ‘hack’ bodysnatcher would leave the grave open.
Now to a lighter course from the Louvre: a recent acquisition from a private collection has completed their collection of the Descent from the Cross sculptures. The museum acquired four of the statuettes in 1896. The children of the Baron Robert de Rothschild donated one more of the statues, but the grouping originally consisted of seven, research had shown. This wonderful video from the Louvre Facebook page shows the beauty of these small figures, their unique design clearly the reason for all the excitement.
For our main course, I offer the story of the Monuments Men. Recently in the news as George Clooney is behind a new movie about this historic group of individuals responsible for repatriating looted works of art after WWII. Daniel Craig has been added to the cast that already consists of Mr. Clooney playing George Stout, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s second director, Cate Blanchett will portray Rose Valland, an art historian and member of the French Resistance. The movie will center on the 11 month period between D-Day and VE Day when a taskforce of American and British art experts were charged with scouring Europe for lost and stolen art.
For a sweet desert, this animated music player can be found on Museum of Mysteries; a blog about the things best-selling author MJ Rose finds wonderful, beautiful, curious and curioser.
Such a unique video to watch, the music seemingly secondary to the animation of the instrument, it is the perfect end to a meal full of surprises. I will be reviewing MJ’s book, “The Book of Lost Fragrances” in the upcoming week; history and perfume, what a heady combination to use for a story.
An after dinner coffee with plenty of information can be found with Andreas of Travelwriticus – notes of a curious mind. He shares a list of Museums of Germany on Twitter and I do believe he has covered Everything. As one who follows museums on an international level, this list is a windfall to those of us without a road map to the hidden treasures available on the web. My thanks to Andreas for sharing this list, adding new destinations to a virtual museum tour!
The latest Cabinet was a joy to discover, I hope you feel the same. Join me for Museum Monday, where I will take a virtual tour to share a museum experience with you. I look forward to chatting with you!