During the Renaissance the idea of collecting to study and classify nature blossomed. It quickly grew to include exotic objects brought to Europe from the New World. In the late 1500s once haphazard collecting became systematic and categorized, with specialized furniture to showcase ornate items. In the late 19th century, early British anthropologist Pitt Rivers organized curiosity cabinets into more specific typologies, ushering in the era of modern ethnographic and natural history museums.
While curiosity cabinets seem jumbled and crowded to the eyes of modern museum goers, each cabinet offers viewers the opportunity to uncover unexpected relationships among the gathered objects.