Filippo Buonanni and the Kircher Museum
Published:November 27, 2018
Ashley J. Inglehart, 2018. "Filippo Buonanni and the Kircher Museum", Museums at the Forefront of the History and Philosophy of Geology: History Made, History in the Making, Gary D. Rosenberg, Renee M. Clary
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This paper investigates the role played by Italian naturalist, Filippo Buonanni (1638–1723), in the reorganization of the Kircher Museum. Specifically, it considers Buonanni’s unique philosophy of nature, which can be gleaned from his public debates about spontaneous generation and fossil formation. This paper argues that Buonanni rejected a conformity of causes in nature, which in turn informed his approach to natural history. His unique approach helped to transform Kircher’s collection from a cabinet of wonders to one of the earliest examples of the modern museum.
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Museums at the Forefront of the History and Philosophy of Geology: History Made, History in the Making
Natural history museums have evolved over the past 500 years to become vanguards of science literacy and thus institutions of democracy. Curiosity about nature and distant cultures has proven to be a powerful lure, and museums have progressively improved public engagement through increasingly immersive exhibits, participation in field expeditions, and research using museum holdings, all facilitated by new technology. Natural history museums have dispersed across the globe and demonstrated that public fascination with ancient life, vanished environments, exotic animals in remote habitats, cultural diversity, and our place in the cosmos is universal. This volume samples the story of museum development and illustrates that the historical successes of natural history museums have positioned them to be preeminent facilitators of science literacy well into the future.