Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Lindauer


In Western Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, collections were created as repositories of art, technology, ethnographic curiosities and natural wonders. Collecting first became a widespread practice among Italian humanists of the late Renaissance who, influenced by the work of Pliny, were driven by the desire to understand the world through the acquisition of universal knowledge. The physical configuration of such encyclopedic projects could be found in the museums created to organize and assimilate the explosion of knowledge experienced during this period.This thesis addresses the social significance of accumulating an encyclopedic collection in the form of a large, public art museum at the turn of the twentieth century, discusses the Rudolfine Kunstkammer contextualized in a broad history of collecting prior to and including the Renaissance and compares the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Kunstkammer in terms of how similarly or differently the collections communicated a combination of political, social, economic and cultural power.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008