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Set up a cabinet of curiosities at home

Set up a cabinet of curiosities at home

A cabinet of curiosities is the ideal solution for staging your favorite objects at home. Whether it's unique pieces from the natural sciences or the world of science as tradition dictates, or simply your favorite objects to renew the genre in a contemporary way, discover how to highlight them and transform your bazaar. dust in a unique decor!

What is a cabinet of curiosities?

We owe the appearance of cabinets of curiosities to the Renaissance period, during which European scholars prided themselves on collecting and making their visitors discover unusual, even unique objects. It was then a question of exhibiting all kinds of scientific, ethnic or naturalistic finds and putting them on stage to amaze and entertain. The elements were selected for their strangeness or rarity, and belonged to the following four genres: *The genus naturalia which brings together elements from nature such as amazing shells, stuffed animals etc. *The scientifica genus with elements from the world of science such as terrestrial globes, instruments used in astronomy or biology… *The genus exotica in which we find curiosities from afar like exotic plants. *The genus artificiala which brings together unusual or artistic objects created by man.

Staging objects is an art

Where to install my cabinet of curiosities?

Recreating a cabinet of curiosities at home requires a pronounced taste for staging. Poorly exposed, your objects and collections will lose their effect and you will not achieve the expected effect on your visitors. On the contrary, they must be highlighted by creating an adequate decor. Depending on the size and quantity of the objects you wish to exhibit, several solutions are available to you. The living room is often the room chosen to install a cabinet of curiosities because this is where you receive your guests, but an office or a corridor can also be good solutions. Generally, it is best not to scatter objects but rather to bring them together on a fireplace, on a shelf, in a library or even a display case. If you have a lot of pieces to exhibit, you can dedicate an entire wall to your collection, or even a whole room! You will then be at the head of a real small museum where give free rein to your imagination. Also question the preciousness or the fragility of your objects. Should they be taken in hand or on the contrary protected under a bell or a window?

Naturalist drawing, a great classic

What decor for my cabinet of curiosities?

Traditionally, cabinets of curiosities respect a set of aesthetic codes, but nothing prevents you from inventing your own to enhance your discoveries. The most classic will opt for a background in a dark shade (gray, black, burgundy, petrol blue ...) which highlights the exhibits, and for exhibition accessories in copper, blackened wood, dark velvet, brass or glass. Bells and bottles will dramatize the small elements, just like the velvet cases or the aged golden frames, while the old mirrors will be perfect for multiplying the most singular objects or expanding an emerging collection. These accessories are not essential but help to dramatize your collection and attract the attention of visitors. If you opt for a more modern style, still think of using special containers and decor that contribute to the charm of the whole and will transform scattered objects into a real cabinet of curiosities worthy of interest.

All kinds of objects can be used for exercise

What objects to exhibit in a classic cabinet of curiosities?

Let your collection build up according to your discoveries, it will then be a question of arranging the different elements to give each the place it deserves. A beautiful collection is above all an accumulation of varied pieces: *Vary the subjects : scientific instruments (telescopes, flasks, test tubes…), entomological boxes, skeletons, fossils, rare books, scientific boards, corals, peacock feather, stuffed animals… *Play on the size and volume of objects : maps, miniature subjects, imposing trophies… *Use different exposure modes : framed subjects, in a bell, in a bottle, on the wall, on a base, etc. Look for the exceptional: better a rare item than half a dozen easy to find objects. Over time you will refine your research and find the rare pearls. Browse the flea markets and antique shops and let people know that you are looking for special items. Also think of flea markets, and do not neglect luck, a walk in nature could bring you the skin of reptile, the amazing shell or the fossil that you are looking for!

Gather skulls, fossils, butterflies for a traditional collection

A cabinet of curiosities revisited in contemporary fashion

Skulls and seagrass aren't your cup of tea? No problem, because nothing prevents you from exhibiting your favorite contemporary objects like a cabinet of curiosities. Whether it's travel souvenirs, your favorite Harry Potter edition, origami subjects, your collection of cameras or Star Wars action figures, anything that can spark interest is worth showing ! You can even revisit the codes of the cabinet of curiosities in an offbeat way, with trophies of stuffed animals, false organs made with crochet, crockery with botanical motifs, framed serigraphs… Also think of reproductions of works with motifs classics like those of Fornasetti, with special vinyl sleeves or even printing letters and old signs.

Do not hesitate to stage your favorite objects

Some tips to highlight your objects

The risk when setting up a cabinet of curiosities is to transform the chosen room or piece of furniture into a shambles. To avoid this impression of clutter despite the accumulation of objects, remember to always balance the compositions, to alternate small and large elements, to create a rhythm for the viewer. The objects must attract attention one after the other, reveal themselves on different planes ... Do not hesitate to mix obvious pieces (perfume bottle, porcelain subject, glass object) with other less known ones which reveal their mystery only after closer examination. If you choose to display your finds in a library in the middle of the books, vary the compositions: rows and stacks of books, objects gathered in small groups rather than scattered homogeneously, empty spaces to let the whole breathe ... Choose the most beautiful books and present them head-on to highlight their cover, or open them to draw attention to a detail. If you opt for a wall decoration, vary the shape and size of the frames, add unframed elements (trophies, dried flowers, small hanging objects, pinned photos ...) and be sure to punctuate your installation so as not to give an impression of uniform clutter. Never lose sight of the fact that the exhibits must speak about you and tell a story. A cabinet of curiosities, as its name suggests, must not only be aesthetic, but also surprise. Ideally, each visitor will be attracted to different objects, and will discover new nuggets with each visit. So have fun, test compositions, change everything and start again until you find the balance that seems perfect to you!

A library is perfect for exhibiting unusual objects