The First Treatise on Museums: Samuel Quiccheberg’s Inscriptiones, 1565
Samuel Quiccheberg’s Inscriptiones, first published in Latin in 1565, is an ambitious effort to demonstrate the pragmatic value of curiosity cabinets, or Wunderkammern, to princely collectors in sixteenth-century Europe and, by so doing, inspire them to develop their own such collections. Quiccheberg shows how the assembly and display of physical objects offered nobles a powerful means to expand visual knowledge, allowing them to incorporate empirical and artisanal expertise into the realm of the written word. But in mapping out the collectability of the material world, Quiccheberg did far more than create a taxonomy. Rather, he demonstrated how organizing objects made their knowledge more accessible; how objects, when juxtaposed or grouped, could tell a story; and how such strategies could enhance the value of any single object.