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Description: Concepts such as art collection and Kunst- und Wunderkammer are strongly embedded in scholarly discourses of the nineteenth and twentieth century. For example, they relate to the assumptions that form-based understandings of art have a higher cultural status, collections always mirror the “taste” and “passions” of their owners, and art has no practical use. Yet, these terms are commonly adopted to describe, by analogy or contrast, the ways objects were gathered together under quite different cultural regimes, even before the eighteenth century.
These essays discuss to what extent such analogies with contemporary practices, collections, institutions and forms of knowledge can explain the accumulation and display of objects within a wide time span, from the Greek Antiquity onwards.