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Museum Wormianum: Collecting and learning in seventeenth-century Denmark

Lisbet Tarp
Lisbet Tarp
Postdoc, Art History, Aarhus University, Norde Ringgade 1, 8000 Aahrus, Denmark
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Publication history
21 November 201725 May 2018


During the first half of the seventeenth century, the Danish polyhistor, Ole Worm (1588–1654), established a collection in Copenhagen, the Museum Wormianum, consisting of minerals, plants, animals, and man-made objects. The collection attracted visitors and was renowned throughout Europe; however, Worm also used it as a site for teaching his university students. Even though Worm did not contribute significantly to the history of science with new discoveries, this article argues that he played a role in shaping an intellectual environment founded on international exchange in which discussions took place, methods were enhanced, and talents were supported. In this context, his museum had an important function as a site of attraction and exchange, anticipating social interaction and learning, even when Worm himself could not participate.

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