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Levinus Vincent, Wondertooneel der Nature (Amsterdam, 1706-1715)

Wonder Chambers of Nature

Levinus Vincent, a wealthy Dutch merchant with ties to the East Indies, created a spectacular natural history museum in Haarlem. Visiting dignitaries admired his museum, including Peter the Great and King Charles III of Spain. The detailed depictions of interior spaces include figures of women visitors, which suggests how museums such as Vincent’s offered women opportunities for participation in the natural sciences as donors, curators, lecturers, collectors, discoverers, visitors and patrons.

Although they were not admitted to the universities, women played a foundational role in that alternative educational space, the museum. While many discoveries bear the names of men attached to them, it is more accurate to regard scientific discovery as the result of hidden communities, and in these communities we will always find women.

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Exhibit Gallery OERs

Wondertooneel: Women and Museums

Wondertooneel Learning Leaflet

What were women doing in the museum? 

Levinus Vincent, a wealthy Dutch merchant with ties to the East Indies, created a spectacular 'Chamber of Wonders' natural history museum in Haarlem. Visiting dignitaries admired his museum, including Peter the Great and King Charles III of Spain. The detailed depictions of interior spaces include figures of women engaged in a variety of activities. Museums such as Vincent's offered women opportunities for participation in the natural sciences as donors, collectors, discoverers, visitors, patrons, lecturers and curators. This OER explores the significance of women in these early museums.


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Maria Merian: World-Traveling Entomologist

Maria Merian Learning Leaflet

How do art and travel benefit natural history? 

Maria Merian (1647-1717), skilled in both art and natural history, studied the relationships between flowers and insects. She conducted field expeditions around the world, carried out research in gardens and museums, and produced detailed sketches and beautiful paintings, and even bred insects to aid in her entomological investigations. 


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