We are pleased to welcome you to Wonders of Nature and Artifice, a Renaissance-inspired “Chamber of Wonders” curated by students from the First Year Seminar, “Exploration of the Marvelous: Art and Science in the Renaissance” and the Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies course “Wonders of Nature and Artifice: The Renaissance Quest for Knowledge.” In the courses and exhibition, students have learned about the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and the powerful dynamics behind scientific discovery and societal forces.
The students took as their starting point the Curiosity Cabinets and Chambers of Wonders from the days of the Renaissance. Such collections featured an astounding variety of works of nature and artifice, juxtaposed in ways we no longer see today. The bounty of famed collections like that of Ferrante Imperato or Archduke Albert of Flanders included crocodiles, marble statuettes, corals and shells, globes, exquisite paintings, monkeys, marvelous flowers, unusual clocks, birds, precious gems, skeletons and books. The Renaissance, known as a rebirth of Classical Antiquity, was also an age of global exploration, and collectors were driven by curiosity and a sense of wonder about what seemed to be an ever-expanding world.
In this same spirit, students in these two classes created an exhibition in Schmucker Art Gallery comprised of Gettysburg College’s own wonders of nature and artifice, some specially loaned by faculty, alumni, trustees and even the students themselves. Here, you will see an equally dynamic range of scientific specimens, odd artifacts and works of artistic ingenuity, including elaborate fossils from millions of years past, a 16th-century musical manuscript, beautifully mounted butterflies, a 17th-century Ming plate, the fearsome skull of an alligator, and an Ethiopian magical scroll with hand-painted images on goat vellum.
The material on this website complements the physical exhibition. Each student carried out the research herein on an object or set of objects of their choice; they also took charge of displaying them in the marvelous and diverse installation on display from November 10 to December 8, 2017.