Samuel Quiccheberg and the Prudent Kunstkammer

Samuel Quiccheberg and the Prudent Kunstkammer

Mark A. Meadow

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Hans Mielich, Portrait of Samuel Quiccheberg, 1565.

In the sixteenth century, a new kind of pragmatic, knowledge-oriented collection emerged in southern Germany. Called Kunst- and Wunderkammern, these new museums were intimately linked to the conception of the modern nation state and the associated requirements of economic, political, and social management. Mark A. Meadow's project explored the complex systems of value at work in these collections, that extended well beyond economic and aesthetic worth to include pure and applied research value, political and religious affiliation, and social memory. In Samuel Quiccheberg’s 1565 treatise on Kunstkammern, Inscriptiones vel tituli Theatri amplissimi, the author proposes establishing a system of workshops, laboratories, and display spaces that provide the material infrastructure for efficiently and prudently administering a centralized state economy, religion, and political ideology. As a point of origin for modern public museums and research universities, Quiccheberg’s treatise offers us a better understanding of the functions served by these early museums. This enhanced understanding of the interconnections between collections, knowledge production, and civic administration has important implications for stewardship policies concerning collections of cultural, scientific, and academic heritage today.