Museum of Garden History, London
3 July - 29 October 2006
Wednesday 18 October 2006 at the Museum of Garden History
A panel of writers, historians and theorists discussed lost, 'ruined' or overlooked links between the Tradescant Ark and the seventeenth century social, cultural and physical architectures that constructed its spaces, collections and audiences.
The Ark's diverse collections of natural history, craft, fine art, everyday objects, 'ethnographic' articles and botanical specimens provide a fascinating historical display of art and science brought together as artefacts of wonder. Many of these artefacts were collected during the Tradescants' travels, and refer to the commerce conducted by the new trading companies in Europe, the Americas, and the West and East Indies.
Now distributed between the Ashmolean, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers, and temporarily at the Oxford Museum of the History of Science (and the first site for the Ashmolean), the Ark's collection is viewed by contemporary audiences in purpose built museum spaces. But in its original site in South Lambeth, this publicly accessible 'cabinet of curiosities' revealed how the Tradescants' spaces of collecting and display shifted between the private and public boundaries of the home and the emergent modern museum.
Dr Louise Durning, Principal Lecturer in History of Art at Oxford Brookes University; Susanna Isa, Lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London; Miles Ogborn, Professor of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London, and the evening's Chair, Peg Rawes, co-ordinator of Diploma History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture, explored how these 'architectures' of display and collection reveal understandings of the Ark itself, and might also be retrieved for enriching contemporary ideas about the spaces of collection and display, private and public space, and the underlying physical, cultural and material architectures and institutions that inform them.
The Museum of Ole Worm (1588-1654), engraved by G. Wingendorp, 1655