Collections of Things & Ideas...
Many of us have a collection or two - a few blue and white plates on a wall or an album of treasured photographs, perhaps a secret stash of teenage diaries in the bottom of your drawer or a notebook filled with family recipes. Children might have a jar filled with rocks from the backyard. But collections can be more than objects.
The things and ideas we collect can remind us of indelible experiences or dreams we have for our future. They can be whatever we want them to be.
People have collected items for millennia, but there’s one particular era in which both children and adults collected things for the same reason children gather rocks from the backyard. They were curious about the world around them. Curiosity itself is something to be celebrated.
The Dutch Golden Age began around 1600, shortly after the Netherlands became a republic. Unrepressed in a new democracy, trade, art and science flourished. The country saw an influx of people from other countries, and their ships in the Dutch East India Company imported all kinds of unusual items from around the world.
As their nation prospered, the Dutch people became more tolerant and more curious. Children and adults started asking questions about all kinds of things. They started to set aside some of their superstitions and they especially wanted to learn about the natural world.
In order to get a closer look at nature, some took up the hobby of lens-making. They stared into the seeds of a pear, a grain of barley, or even the tendon of a dead animal. The Dutch East India Company sold exotic items such as the wood of a coconut tree and the flesh of a whale to any Dutchmen who was interested. Some dedicated an entire room to their collection, but more often they housed their collected items in a curiosity cabinet. What a tribute to learning!
Nowadays we use our computers to research our curiosities. We collect them in digital files and share them on social media sites. What is a Pinterest page if it's not a digital curiosity cabinet?
I invite you to visit my digital curiosity cabinet. It's part of my author website. See a few of the people and ideas that I am curious about. Read about the memories and places that I hold dear. My sincerest hope is that you are encouraged to explore your own curiosity!