Over the years the British developed something of a mania for collecting, and chief amongst them has to be Hans Sloane
. Who? He began collecting... well, everything in the late 17th Century and that collection amassed over a lifetime birthed what would become the British Museum
The Americans would later join in the craze
with their Cabinets of Curiosities and Wunderkammerns et al. Often as not it would be sailors, adventurers, and eventually explorers who would bring back these things to marvel at and learn from. It's the learning that eventually distinguished the practice.
Originally Posted by Jeremy Berlin
In other words, these ancestors of modern museums (and P. T. Barnum’s freak shows) were odes to idiosyncrasy, not science. Enter Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist with an ardor for order. “The first step in wisdom is to know the things themselves,” he wrote. To do so in a “simple, beautiful, and instructive” way, he devised a system of classification for all living things: two-word names in Latin identifying first the genus, then the species. Since 1753 his universal taxonomy “has been to scientists what the Dewey decimal system is to librarians,” says Ted Daeschler, paleontologist and vice president of collections at the academy.
Full article: The Things They Brought Back
Has anybody else began their own Cabinet of Curiosity yet?
While the goal is to eventually have something akin to a learning library, I've had to remain selective due to a lack of space. A couple of antique maps here, a jade elephant from Pakistan there, and a Japanese spear to boot.