Art galleries did not come into existence until the mid-eighteenth century; today’s ubiquitous ‘white cube’ exhibition venues are a product of twentieth-century conspicuous consumption. Stimulated by the rebirth of humanist scholarship and its insights into natural history in the early sixteenth century, princely courts, scientific societies, religious orders and laypersons started to collect curiosities. Further encouraged by the developments in transport that led to the European exploration of ‘new’ worlds, they collected objects from around the world and placed them in their ‘cabinets of curiosity’ (also often referred to by their German name, Wunderkammer). The majority of the cabinets in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries consisted of composite objects and seldom contained only works of art. Works of art were not valued as highly as some curios and often fetched lower sums. These cabinets formed synopses of the world, allowing the produce of the earth, sea and air to be compared with the produce of mankind, using wonder to imagine humanity and nature. The cabinets of curiosities were collections of rare or odd objects representing the three elements of naturalia: the animal world, the vegetable world, and the mineral world. In addition, collectors would accumulate artificialia, or human achievements. Amassing the most curious artifacts in the world, collectors sought to illuminate the secrets of nature by reproducing its spectacle and fantasy in microcosm. The cabinets were non-scientific in the sense that they primarily encapsulated the sense of wonderment that lay at the heart of Christian creationist doctrine. As such, the objective of the early modern cabinets was not to produce a logical, encyclopaedic map of everyday naturalia and artificialia, but to support and promote religious knowledge. The early Wunderkammer were primarily produced for spiritual and religious purposes.