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Cabinet of Curiosities: Mark Dion and the University as Installation

Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 128
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  • Book Info
    Cabinet of Curiosities
    Book Description:

    The richly illustrated essays in Cabinet of Curiosities record the creative processes behind an installation designed by contemporary artist Mark Dion at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, a collaboration of museum staff, students, and collection curators. Cabinet of Curiosities offers commentary on the ways in which collecting has undergirded the creation of knowledge within universities and in Western society._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9669-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    C. J. S.
  5. Introduction: Restaging the Cabinet of Curiosities
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    It’s rare for a museum exhibition or installation to receive a full account of its organizing processes and actors, its underpinning concepts and physical elements. The stock-in-trade of museum publications is the exhibition catalogue, which documents the final exhibition but usually focuses on single works of art in isolated illustrations. Seldom can an exhibition catalogue, usually published to coincide with the opening of an exhibition, feature images of the project’s installation, where objects are juxtaposed with each other to convey key curatorial ideas and relationships. Therefore exhibitions remain woefully underrepresented as visual environments. The study of exhibition installation and design,...

  6. Contemporary Museums and the Cabinet of Curiosities

    • A Walrus Head in the Art Museum: Mark Dion Digs into the University Of Minnesota
      (pp. 3-28)

      It was the bezoar, I believe, that made all the difference. Mark Dion had arrived at the University of Minnesota in December 1999 to meet me and the rest of the staff at the Weisman Art Museum and to visit a handful of the remarkable, world-class collections held by the university. I had managed to land Dion in Minnesota between his project at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and his return home to rural Pennsylvania, via New York City. This alone was no easy task to arrange for this itinerant artist, who literally travels the world to execute...

    • A Conversation with Mark Dion
      (pp. 29-42)

      Mark dion’sCabinet of Curiosities for the Wexner Center for the Artswas on view on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus from May 10 to August 10, 1997. In an attempt to reconstruct how this remarkable exhibition came about, Dion and I, more than six years later, engaged in a series of faxed communications, narrating the process as we recalled it. As both of us comment here, the Wexner exhibition was never intended to travel to other venues, so its eventual reconstitution at the Weisman Art Museum, or anywhere else, was hardly a consideration for either of...

    • Curiosity Cabinets, Museums, and Universities
      (pp. 43-54)

      What do we learn from a re-creation of a curiosity cabinet in a museum in a university? What do we learn from the conjunction of such historically distant entities as a sixteenth-century curiosity cabinet and a twenty-first-century university? And what is the university doing with all this stuff? Or even, what is it doing with a museum?

      As my title suggests, this essay connects three very different social and historical institutions: the curiosity cabinet, the museum, and the university. Presented with these terms, most historians would draw a line connecting the curiosity cabinet (the first universal collections, dating from the...

    • Plates from Mark Dion: Cabinet of Curiosities
      (pp. None)
  7. Student Curators Reflect on Cabinet of Curiosities
    (pp. 57-66)

    The sign beneath the trichobezoar in the Minnesota Historical Veterinary Museum reads: “From a bovine rumen collected by Ray Burley at Long Prairie Packing Plant So. St. Paul on July 9, 1998. Brought to museum by Melissa Shelton, Class of ’99.” This is the bezoar that would be displayed inMark Dion: Cabinet of Curiositiesat the Weisman Art Museum.

    This bezoar is a curiosity. About the size of a soccer ball, it is the largest bezoar in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Veterinary Museum. There it is displayed alongside veterinary tools for castrating cows; empty vials marked opium,...

  8. Cabinet of Curiosities Exhibition Checklist
    (pp. 69-80)

    Walrus head, Mammal Collection, Bell Museum of Natural History

    Great Chain of Beingposter, Department of Anthropology Teaching Collection

    Flounder plaque, Museum Collection, Bell Museum of Natural History

    X-ray of one-year-old bald eagle with a bowel obstruction, The Raptor Center, College of Veterinary Medicine

    American Sparrow Hawk,engraving by John James Audubon, 1827–38, Natural History Art Collection, Bell Museum of Natural History

    Gaura coccineacollected on Joseph Nicollet’s North-western Expedition, 1839, Herbarium and Department of Plant Biology, Bell Museum of Natural History

    Gay Pride buttons, Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

    U.S. Postal Service Duck...

  9. University of Minnesota Collections
    (pp. 83-108)

    The University of Minnesota Herbarium had its official beginning in 1889, when the Board of Regents approved the purchase of J. H. Sandberg’s private herbarium, numbering 6,000 specimens, to be included in the newly formed Botany Department. Conway Macmillan, the first botany professor at the university and state botanist with the Geological and Natural History Survey of Minnesota, laid the major foundations of the Herbarium. He acquired J. W. Congdon’s collection of California plants, E. W. Holway’s extensive New World rust collection, and L. R. Moyer’s collection of prairie plants from south-western Minnesota.

    Until the end of the Second World...

  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 109-109)