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Inspirations for the Carleton Cabinet of Wonders

In the 15th and 16th centuries scholars and collectors assembled natural specimens (like flowers, animals, rocks and shells) and hand-made objects in chests, rooms, or even buildings known as "cabinets of curiosities." The specimens displayed were often collected during exploring expeditions and trading voyages, and one of the essential elements in historical cabinets was an armadillo.

One of the most famous cabinets, assembled by Ole Worm, was actually a room-sized collection filled with preserved animals, skeletons, minerals, and so on. Cabinets often contained a mix of fact and fiction, including mythical creatures such as the Scythian lamb in Worm's cabinet, a wooly fern thought to be a plant/sheep.

Jody Williams '78 created The Nancy Gast Rist '77 Cabinet of Wonders in the spirit of these historical cabinets, while reinterpreting the cabinet of curiosities for the 21st century through a collection that explores the liberal arts and reflects the Carleton experience.