The Mini Museum is a handheld collection of 26 specimens “from Earth and beyond.”
Before there were museums, there were wunderkammern. These Renaissance-era curiosity cabinets held all manner of weird and wonderful specimens, from narwhal tusks and pickled creatures to celestial globes and burial figurines. But broad as they were in curatorial purview, these collections were closed to the general public. Visiting wunderkammern was strictly the prerogative of the elite. (These days, visiting a museum in New York can feel the same.)
Now, for the price of $299, you can show off your very own cabinet of curiosity. Created by former toy designer Hans Fex, the Mini Museum is a clear Lucite slab set with 26 natural and human-made relics.
There’s a sliver of preserved mammoth meat, nearly 20,000 years old; a speck of Martian atmosphere, encased in meteorite; a single ring of medieval chainmail; a fragment of the Krayt dragon skeleton seen in Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Like Renaissance wunderkammern, this handheld museum encompasses not only the physical markers of the past but also the tastes and aspirations of the present.
Fex, an avid collector, acquires specimens from a range of sources—scientists, artifact dealers, private land owners, auctions, and more. On the Mini Museum Kickstarter page, he promises that “every specimen that I've curated for the Mini Museum is authentic and was acquired ethically and legally.” Each one comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Measuring 5 by 4 by 1 inches, the Mini Museum won’t overwhelm the senses like the vast curiosity rooms of old, but what it lacks in stature it makes up for in the novelty of holding history, real and imagined, in the palm of one’s hand. At $299, it ain’t cheap, but it is as close as we moderns are likely to get to the wunderkammer’s splendors.
Mini Museum, $299+ pre-order on Kickstarter.