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Extra info for A Social History of Museums: What the Visitors Thought

Sample text

One can, of course, wish to condition people's emotions without in the least intending to determine which facts they shall absorb, and in what order or pattern. In 1815 Ludwig I of Bavaria engaged the architect, Wittelsbach, to design him a new sculpture gallery in Munich. 4 They were anxious to avoid being didactic. For this reason there was to be no 'cynical simplicity', but rather a calculated splendour 'which could communicate to the observer the concept of reverence which should be paid to the masterpieces of antiquity'.

In the 183os, a German art expert, G. F. Waagen, made an extensive tour of collections in Britain. He visited, among many others, Lord Cowper's collection of pictures at Panshanger and found nearly everything very much to his satisfaction. The glowing summer's sun had heated me exceedingly, but I was soon revived by the refreshing coolness of these fine apartments, in which the pictures are arranged with much taste. The drawing-room, especially, is one of those apartments which not only give great pleasure by their size, the convenience and elegance of the furniture, but likewise afford the most elevated gratification of the mind, by works of art of the noblest kind.

Peale's tastes were exceedingly catholic. Among the hundreds of items added to his collection between I 790 and I 792 were a chicken with four legs and four wings, an So-pound turnip, the trigger-finger of a convicted murderer, and a tiny piece of wood from the Coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. The success of the appeal for new exhibits proved something of an embarrassment and Peale realised that his museum, if it were to survive, would have to be transformed into something much more like a public institution.

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