Different functions of learning and knowledge; geology takes form; museums in the Habsburg Empire, 1815-1848
Different functions of learning and knowledge; geology takes form; museums in the Habsburg Empire, 1815-1848 (in Museums at the forefront of the history and philosophy of geology; history made, history in the making, Gary D. Rosenberg (editor) and Renee M. Clary (editor))
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (November 2018) 535: 163-175
Few institutions are as multifaceted and successful as museums. The three main objectives of the museum--collecting, researching, and teaching--always existed next to each other, but they were not necessarily equally weighted. They changed in the course of the history of the museum depending on location and concept. How different was the character of these institutions at the beginning of their existence, when many of them were newly established in the Habsburg Empire. In contrast to modern museums, which focus apart from preservation on exhibitions for a broader public, the concept of the museum of the Vormarz period (1815-1848) was based on different forms of teaching. In 1811, Archduke Johann founded the Joanneum, a universal museum (a museum that included objects from nature and culture as well as crafts) in the province of Styria as a state museum (Landesmuseum) for the region, which became the model for other institutions in the Habsburg provinces. It has been largely overlooked that this outstanding early museum, first and foremost, provided regular instructional lectures in botany and mineralogy and, in so doing, made natural history and earth sciences known to interested people. At a time when mineralogy was not taught at secondary schools and was rarely part of the university curriculum, scholars such as Friedrich Mohs, Matthias Anker, and Karl Haidinger filled this gap and gave lectures in these subjects at museums. This contribution examines the shift from mineralogy as a science of specimens to geognosy (geology) as a science of stratigraphy during the Vormarz period, and I will argue that museums played a pivotal role in this transition process.