Museum Wormianum: Collecting and learning in seventeenth-century Denmark
Published:November 27, 2018
Lisbet Tarp, 2018. "Museum Wormianum: Collecting and learning in seventeenth-century Denmark", 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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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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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.