Past Event

Prudence, Techne, and the Practice of Good Governance in the Early Modern Kunstkammer

April 12, 2019
9:30 AM - 5:15 PM
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Bard Graduate Center (Lecture Hall), 38 West 86th Street, New York

Event Description: 

In 1565, Leo Quiccheberg wrote a brief dedication to Emperor Maximilian II, recommending his brother Samuel Quiccheberg’s treatise on collecting, the Inscriptiones vel tituli Theatri amplissimi, which would be published later in the same year. By reading Samuel’s book, the ruler would learn “… what, from founding a theater of this sort, might be gained for Your Majesty’s prudentiafrom such a Kunst und Wunderkammer.” Written at the moment when the Habsburgs, Wittelsbachs, and other princely houses were first establishing collections as state institutions, this is among the earliest texts to connect museums with the ability to govern wisely and effectively. Both Leo and Samuel employ prudentia in specific reference to Aristotelian phronesis, the form of contingent wisdom required of rulers to respond to constantly changing circumstances. Above all, as Samuel’s treatise makes clear, a Kunstkammer might aid the ruler’s prudentia through technological development, especially at the service of the state’s economy and military, but also religion and learning.

This conference explores the intertwined histories and philosophies of governance, techne, and collecting in the early-modern period. In particular, speakers will examine how the intersection of these three realms was informed by a newly pragmatic sensibility.

Event Speakers:

Pamela Smith, Founding Director of the Center for Science and Society will provide closing comments. 

Please see the event page for full speaker list. 

Event Information:

This event is free and open to the public; please register via the event webpage

Organized by Bard Graduate Center. Please contact [email protected] with any questions.