From Private to Public

Marco Beretta, editor

September 2005, 272 pages, illustrated, ISBN 0-88135-360-4, clothbound and jacketed, $39.95

From Private to Public


“…focuses on one of the signal developments in natural history: the growth and transformation of collecting practices and museums from antiquity through the nineteenth century. The twelve essays in this volume offer a rich and diverse spectrum of examples culled from virtually every region in Europe. The result is a very useful snapshot of the role of collecting in natural history and allied fields such as anatomy and chemistry, not to mention emerging specialties such as geology.”—Early Science and Medicine

“…a particularly interesting volume in that it bridges a number of different approaches to the study of the history of natural history…raises many important issues pertaining to ownership, the use of collections ( beyond the purposes of classification or social standing ), the definition of “collection,” and the private/public continuum of collections…the volume shows how much more we can expand our overall narratives and how rich the subject is…” Isis, 98 : 1 (2007)

“…In his excellent preface, Beretta discusses the idea that the emergence of natural history as an independent discipline ‘was closely connected to the possession and domination of nature, rather than its contemplation’. Thus it was the passion for collecting natural-history artefacts from the Renaissance to the end of the eighteenth century that drove the establishment of the discipline…From a natural historian’s viewpoint, these papers are far removed from the more familiar accounts of how collections, collectors and specimens contributed to our knowledge of the natural world, as they also address the largely unexplored subject of how the collections affected their collectors…well produced with many relevant illustrations.” —Nature

“Seeking to balance Natural History’s traditional emphasis on specimens and collections over writings, From Private To Public sheds a judicious and scholarly light upon humankind’s quest to better understand the surrounding world. An excellent contribution to community and academic library Natural History study shelves.” —The Midwest Book Review

Table of Contents

The Museum of Alexandria: Myth and Model , Giovanni di Pasquale

Natural Collections in the Spanish Renaissance, Susana Gómez López

Wunderkammer vs. Museum? Natural History and Collecting during the Renaissance,Alessandro Tosi

Pierre Pomet’s Parisian Cabinet: Revisiting the Invisible and the Visible in Early Modern Collections, E. C. Spary

Uses and Publics of the Anatomical Model Collections of  La Specola, Florence, and theJosephinum, Vienna, around 1800, Anna Maerker

Taste, Order and Aesthetics in Eighteenth-Century Mineral Collections, Jonathan Simon

Collected, Analyzed, Displayed: Lavoisier and Minerals , Marco Beretta

Owning and Collecting Natural Objects in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Samuel J.M.M. Alberti

The Swedish Museum of Natural History and the “Linnaean Tradition, ” Jenny Beckman

Do Collections Make the Collector? Charles Darwin in Context, Janet Browne

The Museum of the Geological Survey of Portugal the Role of the “Bilobites” Collection in a 19th-century Palaeoichnological Controversy, Ana Carneiro

Re-Humanizing a Sleeping Beauty, A Historian’s Vision of Natural History Collections,Christoph Meinel

Notes on Contributors

Index of Names

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