“Cabinet of Curiosities” at the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra

David Perez design – Coimbra University

lighting design, engineering, realization and programming


Cabinets of curiosities or chambers of wonders proliferated in the s. XVI and XVII in the residences of the European bourgeoisie. They were complete rooms or small spaces dedicated to the exhibition of exotic objects that came from all corners of the world and that the nobles collected to flaunt their riches. In the S. XVIII these collections evolve, and it is preferred that the objects are of scientific interest or promote knowledge of nature. These spaces are precursors of today’s museums.

“Give way to an unattainable reality, to an enigmatic space that places the visitor at the center of a paradox, between the attainable and the distant, the bright and the blurry. The translucent glass changes the transparency to a golden reflection, unreal and sacred. And our reflected image, crossing the border between the two worlds, makes us feel ethereal, immortal but trapped, as Lewis Carroll put Alice in “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There”. Behind the mirror, behind the reflection, images appear and disappear floating between two worlds, belonging neither to one world nor to the other.”


Photo: David Pérez