'A cabinet of rarities': the curious collections of Sir Thomas Browne

When and where

30 January 2017 to 1 December 2017
Royal College of Physicians of London
11 St Andrews Place, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4LE

Past event

'A cabinet of rarities': the curious collections of Sir Thomas Browne

Free exhibition on the curious polymath Sir Thomas Browne

30 January–27 July and 1 September–1 December 2017, Monday–Friday only, 9am–5pm

Free entry

'A cabinet of rarities': the curious collections of Sir Thomas Browne' will explore RCP physician, philosopher, collector, and polymath Thomas Browne’s curious approach to the world through his writing and his collection. Browne (1605–1682) saw the extraordinary in the ordinary, and introduced over 700 new words to the English language, while inspiring literary greats such as Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allan Poe. His collection reveals a fascinating perspective on 17th-century scientific and medical research.

His whole house and garden is a paradise and Cabinet of rarities and that of the best collection, amongst Medails, books, Plants, natural things

John Evelyn, 'The Diary of John Evelyn' (1671)

Originally housed at Browne's home in Norwich, the collection included animal and plant samples as well as books, paintings, and artefacts. The collection will be partially reconstructed at the RCP using his manuscript letters and notebooks, shedding light on his diverse interests – including science, medicine, literature and even witchcraft trials.

This exhibition is part of a larger project, led by Queen Mary University of London, to edit the entire works of Thomas Browne.