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호기심의 방은 물질의 백과사전 같은 수집실이었다. 호기심을 불러 일으킬만한 물건이 수집되어 있다고 하여, 사람들은 이곳을 ‘호기심의 방(Cabinet of Curiosity)’라고 불렀다. 호기심의 방은 유럽에서 16세기 중반부터 형성되기 시작하여 17세기에 전성기를 누렸다. 학자들은 이 신기한 공간의 진정한 의미나 특성을 파헤치기보다는 박물관의 진화과정 중에 형성된 불완전한 공간으로 평가하는 경우가 많았다. 이 글은 호기심의 방을 역사적 맥락에서 심도 있게 분석할 필요가 있는 공간으로 간주하고, 그 위상을 찾는 데 목적이 있다. 이를 위해 17세기 영국의 대표적인 수집가 존 트레이즈켄트(John Tradescant)와 로버트 코튼 경(Sir Robert Cotton)의 호기심의 방을 재구성할 것이다. 17세기 영국의 호기심의 방이 흥미로운 이유는 이 시기에 새로운 주체에 의한 수집이 시작되었기 때문이다. 중간계급 출신의 수집가들은 소유를 통해 자신을 드러내고자 했으며, 기존의 수집실과는 달리 개인의 이름으로 수집에 몰두했다. 호기심의 방을 통해 정체성을 드러내며 사회에서 인정받고자 하는 의지는 일종의 ‘소유적 개인주의’를 확인할 수 있는 사례로 이해할 수 있다. 결국 17세기 영국의 호기심의 방은 17세기 영국 사회를 이해하는 하나의 통로 역할을 했음을 알 수 있다.


The cabinet of curiosity is a collecting room of materials similar to an encyclopedia. Various objects such as the horns of unicorns, birds’ nest from China, fossilized fish, were collected in it. It was called “the cabinet of curiosity” because objects which could raise people’s curiosity were collected. The cabinets of curiosities started to appear from the middle of the 16th century and became widespread in the 17th century. Scholars have studied these novel rooms from two perspectives. The scholars, those who have mentioned the cabinets of curiosities in the context of “history of collecting,” have taken notice of the types of objects and the collecting behavior itself. The museologists studying the “history of museums” have considered it as the origin of museums. The scholars, who have studied the cabinet of curiosity to date, however, have not looked into its significance and characteristics, regarding it as an incomplete place that had been formed in the process of the evolution of museums. The cabinet of curiosity is a meaningful place that requires deep analysis in the context of history and times. In particular, the cabinets of curiosities that emerged in England in the 17th century were different from the collecting rooms of the monasteries in the Middle Age in Europe and Studiolos of Italy, which were popular prior to that period. Moreover, they were places reflecting Englishness, different from those of the European continent in the 17th century. John Tradescant and Sir Robert Cotton were the owners of the most representative cabinets of the 17th century England. Tradescant was a gardener who started his collection while working in the gardens of influential patrons of the times. He and his son completed “The Ark” and built a large-scale collecting room, opening it to the public for a fee. Meanwhile, Cotton built and operated a library preserving a bulk of manuscripts, and a cabinet of curiosity preserving the remains of the Ancient Rome, the fossils, coins, and medals. His collecting room was open to antiquarians free of charge and made great contribution to the development of antiquarianism. The collectors owned the cabinets as a means to show off their ability and dignity, and to fulfill their desires for upward mobility. The cabinet of curiosity of the 17th century England is intriguing because it was created by newly emerged individuals. The English collectors of the times were no longer restricted to the nobility and the royal family, expanding to the professionals from the middling sort. This characteristic was differentiated from the collecting rooms of the previous era and those of the European continents of the times. The collectors from the middling sort intended to show themselves by possession, and passionately engaged in collection in their own names unlike the existing collecting rooms. Their aspirations to demonstrate their identity and to be socially recognized through the cabinets can be interpreted as a kind of “Possessive Individualism.”The cabinet of curiosity was neither an incomplete place that could be underestimated compared to “modern” museums, nor a meaningless place that should be mentioned only in the context of museum history. The cabinet of curiosity, which embodies the Englishness of the 17th century, is worth being guaranteed its own independent position. It can be concluded that the cabinet of curiosity of the 17th century England serves as a prism through which to view, in a somewhat refracted way, the multifaceted cultures of the 17th century England.