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Cabinet of Curiosities

Cabinet of Curiosities

Ruane Center for the Humanities

Program Description:

Beginning in Europe during the Renaissance, cabinets of curiosity, or wunderkammers, were created to showcase manmade and natural treasures from around the world. In the Age of Exploration, eager collectors could impress visitors with objects from newly conquered lands, as well as works of great artistic craftsmanship and instruments of scientific importance.  

This interpretation of a cabinet of curiosity combines contemporary artworks by California-based artist Rob Andrade with older works from Providence College’s campus collection and a specially commissioned wallpaper by Rhode Island-based artist Kirstin Lamb. Lamb, whose series of four paintings After French Decoration can be seen across the hallway, has previously made work dealing with cabinets of curiosity. For this wallpaper, PCG commissioned Lamb to create a digital drawing of our collection objects, which was then printed onto vinyl and attached to the back of the cabinet. Andrade’s sculptures are based on themes from the Development of Western Civilization curriculum, and include references to monuments, artifacts, and rituals from throughout human history. Some of these include representations of the Venus of Willendorf, ancient Egyptian cat statuettes, and Akua Ba fertility figures. Many of these works are 3D-printed, or combine 3D printing with other found objects and industrial materials. Andrade also created various platforms and vessels to aid in the display and viewing of some of his creations. Objects from the college’s Campus Collection include medieval reliquaries, portrait busts, and a 16th-century enamel triptych. Many of these objects were donated to Providence College in the early 1960s by Thomas F. Flannery Jr., a collector of medieval art. Others are reproductions of artworks which have been collected and used for teaching purposes.