Mini Museum

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.

(Mini Museum)

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.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Passengers line up for a bullet train at a platform in Tokyo Station.
    Transportation

    The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

    The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.

  2. LOVE sculpture in a center city.
    Design

    Who Owns LOVE?

    Just days before Robert Indiana’s death, an offshore shell company filed a copyright suit against him over his beloved public artwork.

  3. A woman rides her bike on a snowy day in Amsterdam.
    Transportation

    5 Reasons Why Amsterdam Works So Well for Bikes

    Skip or short-change any one of them and your city of bikes won’t work as well.

  4. A detail from a 1942 British Mandate map of Haifa, now a city in Israel.
    Maps

    Mapping Palestine Before Israel

    A new open-source project uses British historical maps to reveal what Palestine looked like before 1948.

  5. Transportation

    Love the Bus, Save Your City

    Talk of the transportation future is focused on the next shiny thing. But one old technology is central to real transformation.