A curio cabinet is a vertical glass cabinet with wood or metal frames that is used to display collectibles or figurines. Some have mirrors for the back wall in order to show the entire object. The term “curio cabinet” originally referred to the entire collection or the room in which the collection was held, and only later when the cabinets became popular did it refer to the actual cabinet itself.
Created in the Renaissance, curios were originally called “wunderkammern” or “wonder chambers” and were used by European scientists, artists, explorers and collectors to display objects which they found to be, well, curious. These objects were typically displayed in a way that expressed the owner’s interpretation of the world and therefore their personality, which is one of the reasons they became so popular. Considering these original 16th and 17th century curios displayed such unique and artistic finds, it is no surprise that they inspired modern day museums.
Today curios are still a great way to display either a small or large collection of favorite objects, from a bathroom curio (or shadowbox) with seashells from around the world to a dining room curio with China passed down from generation to generation.
Here are some of our favorite takes on modern curios…