On the third floor of the Historic Orphanage, you stand directly in front of the entrance to the Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities, the Francke Foundations cabinet of curiosities. To familiarise yourself with the special structure of this collection, step closer to the model and listen to an introduction.
Despite its vast diversity of objects, the collection is clearly structured. The basic distinction is between two categories of objects, the naturalia and the artificialia, natural objects and artifacts. The naturalia are in the six display cupboards on the left side of the room, with the crocodile hanging from the ceiling. The cupboards on the other side hold the handmade or manufactured artifacts and artworks. Since this section of the collection is significantly larger, it also includes the cupboards along the east wall and the displays down the centre of the room.
We're now at the entrance to the Cabinet of Artifacts and Natural Curiosities, or as it's called in German, the »Wunderkammer«, literally a Chamber of Wonders. Such chambers of wonders were the baroque predecessor of today's museums. Compared to a modern museum, the main difference is that a Cabinet of Artifacts and Natural Curiosities set out to collect objects from every conceivable area, the more diverse the better. This reflected the idea of making the vast wealth of God's creation available for study, satisfying a thirst for knowledge. And since the Latin »curiositas« means wanting to know, a collection like this was also dubbed a »curiosities cabinet«.
It's almost like entering another world. Just before we start our tour, take a moment to get an overall impression of the collection.