Adrienne L. Kaeppler

Holophusicon: The Leverian Museum

An Eighteeth-Century English Institution of Science, Curiosity and Art



The Holophusicon (‘embracing all of nature’) or Leverian Museum was the world’s first popular museum of science, curiosity and art—going back to 1771. Its contents included the largest col­lection of Cook-voyage specimens and objects ever exhibited in one place, in addition to sculp­tured heads from the Cave of Elephanta in India, Oliver Cromwell’s armor, the Turkish clothing and guns of Edward Wortly Montague, birds, fossils, and minerals. After occupying a beautiful mansion in Leicester Square, London, the collection was put up for lottery and moved to Blackfriars Bridge. In 1806 the contents were sold at auction in some 7000 lots, bought by more than 140 purchasers. This book tells the remarkable story of this extraordinary collection and fol­lows these important objects through numerous hands to public and private collections around the world, including museums in Vienna, Berlin, London, Cambridge, Liverpool, Exeter, Honolulu, Sydney, Wellington, Christchurch, and the United States.

Adrienne L. Kaeppler is Curator of Oceanic Ethnology at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Her decades of detective work encompassed museum collections, libraries, and archives, resulting in a book that includes nearly 1000 colored photographs of objects and specimens as well as hundreds of eighteenth-century watercolors of them by Leverian artist Sarah Stone. 

Holophusicon: The Leverian Museum

An Eighteenth-Century English Institution of Science, Curiosity, and Art


$49.95  Softcover   ISBN 978-3-9811620-1-1




xii+308 pp, 24.5 x 29.5 cm

983 color and black/white illustrations

Bibliography, index   


Published in cooperation with the Museum für Völkerkunde Wien (KHM)

Druckversion Druckversion | Sitemap
© ZKF Publishers