In 2015, the Royal Academy of Arts held the Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust exhibition (4 July to 27 September). In many ways, the American artist Joseph Cornell (1903–1972) created his own personal ‘museum’ in his studio. His artistic process of gathering and classifying materials echoes the great project of the Enlightenment and the Victorian passion for collecting that followed; both of these historical eras greatly interested Cornell.
The Collecting the World: Secret Tours of the Learned Societies event at Burlington House explored the connections between Cornell’s work and treasures from the collections of the Royal Academy of Arts, The Society of Antiquaries, The Royal Society of Chemistry, The Royal Astronomical Society, The Linnean Society and The Geological Society. It was an opportunity for all the courtyard societies to collaborate and celebrate this important figure, whose work was founded on the intersection of both the arts and sciences as well as the past and present, and his personal exploration of natural history and astronomy, the mysteries of alchemy, matter and time.
This was a free, although limited, event that took visitors on a remarkable tour of each learned society.