En värld av under

  • Gunnar Broberg


A wondrous world.

The idea of the natural history museum is traced back to the cabinet of curiosities and connected to the development of Linnean taxonomy. Two problems are singled out as decisive in the shape of the modern natural museum: taxonomic epistemology (how to find the right characters in arranging plants and animals) and the problem of continuity and multitude in nature. The result, obvious at least at the end of the 18th century, is a division of the natural history museum into two types: one the museum in the meaning of Comenius, i. e. for study and scholarship, the other the museum made public and educational in the manner of the cabinet of the curiosities. The argument of this brief essay is more fully developed and put in connection with the history of the encyclopedia in the essay by Broberg, "The broken circle".