Today a Curioseum is a common sight in many homes. People have alway kept and treasured cherished possessions, but the Cabinets of Curiosities of the 18th century were perhaps the first formalised Curioseums. They were the province of wealthy collectors who would acquire items of beauty and curiosity for not only their own delight, but to share with their friends and guests.
The Curioseum followed a similar desire, being a democratised version for the ordinary person. The Victorians revelled in them, and would eagerly visit friends to take tea, and marvel at the diverse treasures their Curioseums. They were talking points, in the days before mass media and a constant stream of entertainment, they were at once a source of comfort and inspiration.
Houses then were not the carefully homogenised colour co-ordinated prisons of blandness that are sadly so prevalent today; they were homes of individuality, vitality, inspiration and delight. An unimaginative home is a sure sign of an unimaginative mind.
A Curioseum today stands in defiance of the cult of de-clutter. It consists of personal acquisitions, gifts, cherished items, and things which just appear unaccountably from no-one knows where. Generally speaking, it is a collection of things to inspire, things to remember, and everything in between. They make manifest the thoughts, interests, and lives of the people they share their space with. These are items which reflect the past, celebrate the present, and point the way to the future. The bland house, while being intellectually sterile and empty of feeling, denies the past, rejects the present, and ignores the future.
A Curioseum has a power and force of its own, which only the most unimaginative and pedestrian mind would seek to subdue. They occur spontaneously without any planning or forethought, and often without anyone noticing. It may begin quietly with an interesting object being placed on a mantlepiece or shelf. Over time it gathers the company of other items. Left to its own devices it will gently, but relentlessly, spread to occupy other surfaces, and extend its domain to cover walls and floors. Before you are aware, you will find yourself the centrepiece of your own Curioseum.
Curioseum - a portmanteau word combining curiosity with museum.
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