Initial Thoughts on the Enlightenment Gallery in BM- Gina Maskell

Visually, the Enlightenment Gallery is very much an imitation of how I imagined a study during the Enlightenment to look. It was filled to the brim with both artifacts from all over the world and also the tool and innovations that allowed these discoveries. When I first walked in, I entered into a room lined with telescopes, astrolabes, globes, and maps– the tools being stored. There were many along the walls but the key tools were in cases in the center, not quite “stand alones” but I guess “collection stand alones”. These were the introduction to the exhibit. It was an introduction literally to the enlightenment. They needed the tools before they could do the exploration. The two wings on either side were rife with artifacts: books, encyclopedias, manuscripts, drawings, fossils, pots, vases, figurines, statues, brooches, pins, etc, overfilling the shelves that weren’t occupied by the tools.But it wasn’t unorganized. There was a rhythm, a classification of all of the artifacts. They were from all corners of the world and from many times but they were arranged thematically, like a library catalogue, classified by subject: art, religion, writing, language– all aspects of culture were covered. The Enlightenment was the beginning of the study of other cultures. All of these objects were insights into the art, the religions of these newly discovered places and newly discovered pasts. It was the beginning of anthropological studies.

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