Historians unanimously describe the shift from private cabinets of curiosities to public museums in the first half of the nineteenth century as a major transformation in the contents, purpose, and practices of exhibition. On closer inspection, however, this shift was far more clearly defined in the great metropolitan museums than in the hundreds of smaller museums that relied on the second-hand market to furnish their collections. This article examines the changes that cabinets of natural curiosities underwent as they were absorbed and reorganized in public museums during the early nineteenth century. It focuses on the Linck collection in Saxony, one of the oldest and best-documented collections of early modern naturalia still in existence, and particularly on the animal embryos that were taken out of alcohol and taxidermized in the fashion of fully grown animals. Contrary to the outspoken educational purpose of these new museums, the transition from private cabinets to public exhibits did not lead to the creation of anatomically accurate displays. Instead, it often perpetuated the fashions of the "curiously set up" displays of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


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pp. 1087-1109
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