Community Engagement - Cabinet of Curiosity

Published: 14 September 2023

Leicester Museums & Galleries have a very active programme of outreach work where we engage with the communities of Leicester at various events, playschemes and festivals. The Community Creates Team have been touring the Cabinet of Curiosity around Leicester over Summer 2023.

One of the main elements of the community creates programme is to engage the people of Leicester with Museum Collections. One of the most important forms of engagement is to attend local events and festivals around the city.

To be able to engage with local people within their communities we concluded we needed an appealing display that would attract people to come and talk to the team and learn about the collections. The Cabinet of Curiosity was devised.

Cabinets of curiosities became popular during the Age of Exploration 1400-1600s. People from Europe had begun sailing to other parts of the world, meeting new people, and learning of diverse cultures. Objects were collected and brought back and placed in rooms that came to be referred to as Cabinets of Curiosity. The majority of the cabinets focused on natural history. These cabinets were often the foundations for museums collections around the UK.

Photo of an outreach session

Keeping the history of cabinets in mind  we decided to develop a natural history cabinet. The cabinet consists of natural history objects such as a 66-million-year-old fossilised Ammonite, a taxidermy Cayman crocodile, and a collection of common British insects.

The Team have taken the cabinet out to two festivals this summer as well as four HAF (Holiday, Activities Food programme) events. They have spoken to over 1000 people. The feedback has been very positive. The public have enjoyed having the opportunity to touch objects and learn a little bit about our amazing natural world.