Graduate Architecture

Posted September 27, 2019

Curious Cabinets at the Penn Museum

The latest iteration of the Department of Architecture’s Pavilion Project, Curious Cabinets is an installation of work by the Weitzman first-year graduate architecture studio situated in the Stoner Courtyard of the Penn Museum. The installation will be on view from October 8-17 with a public opening on Wednesday, October 9, at 5:00pm.

Representing one phase in a semester-long collaboration, the full-scale fabrications of Curious Cabinets were conceived to house and curate a range of artifacts from across one of the world’s great archeology and anthropology research museums. The title Curious Cabinets alludes to the early Renaissance concept of Wunderkammer  (“room of wonder” in German), also referred to as a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities.’ As precursors to the contemporary museum, aristocratic collections of art, zoological and geological specimens, as well as archaeological and anthropological finds, were gathered together to form a Wunderkammer.

While the term ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ today is problematic in current museum culture due to it colonialist implications as well as its curatorial crudeness (in an age of specialized academic expertise), as a contemporary architectural exhibit, Curious Cabinets emphasizes the wonderment of the design of the “room” or “cabinet” itself.

A complementary exhibition website showcases additional renderings and phases of design.

The 501 studio is coordinated by Associate Professor of Architecture Andrew Saunders with critics Maya Alam, Daniel Markiewicz, Eduardo Rega Calvo, Danielle Willems, and Emmett Zeifman.