Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona

Surprise 1: The Salvador Cabinet island

The NAT Venues Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona Surprise 1: The Salvador Cabinet island

This new display (island) is a life-size replica of the Cabinet of Curiosities created by the Salvador family, the original of which can be found at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona, and it complements the Museum’s permanent exhibition together with the other science islands. Science islands are independent spaces, like small displays within the permanent exhibition, which are distributed all along the route.

The Salvador family produced many brilliant apothecaries and naturalists who, for three centuries (1626-1855), kept a cabinet of curiosities at their pharmacy on Carrer Ample in Barcelona.

A cabinet of curiosities was an office but also an exhibition which only a select few were allowed to visit. The aim was to enhance people’s appreciation of nature, as well as their admiration for the owners of such collections due to their knowledge, power and understanding of the world. Such cabinets of curiosities were very popular in Europe from the Renaissance up to the Enlightenment, playing a fundamental role in the study and dissemination of natural science for three centuries.

In general, cabinets of curiosities were brimming with objects from the three kingdoms of nature, covering the ceiling, ground and walls and filling the drawers and shelves. As well as specimens, there would also be a library and the necessary instruments to preserve the collections.

Thanks to this life-size replica of the Salvador Cabinet and the objects displayed in it, the general public can now experience the same sensations as those privileged few who, many years ago, were fortunate enough to be allowed to visit it, discovering the work involved in keeping such a collection and getting to know the scientific controversies of the time related to fossils and other specimens, before Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution.

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After visiting the replica of the Salvador Cabinet in the Forum Park, it is highly recommended to pay a visit to the original cabinet on display at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona.