This exhibition seeks to explore early museum organization, philosophy, and aesthetics while disrupting the recreated environment with a modern interpretation that examines the roots and effects of early museum practice.
The 19th century saw the proliferation of museums across the United States and Europe. These institutions were designed around enlightenment principles, encouraging observation and objective reasoning to explore and understand the natural world and philosophy. As such, they contained departments that included multiple fields in the arts and sciences. What we think of as art museums, natural history museums, libraries, and classrooms all merged together in a single display of specimens, species, and culture. Yet, even while seeking the enlightenment ideals of logic and reason, these institutions simultaneously rejected the principles of equality and liberty by denying access to much of the population.