Bradenton's Wunderkammer is written by Samantha Sprague, Curator of Education, and Ashley Burke, past Curator of Collections. Guest contributor William Hilliard helped to write the article on the Model T. If you would like to contribute to Bradenton's Wunderkammer, please contact Samantha at (941) 746-4131 ex 31, or email her directly at ssprague@southfloridamuseum.org


Special Contributor Allyson O'Leary

Latest Posts

Posted on 12/3/2013 by Samantha Sprague

Bradenton's Wunderkammer: 65 Years - 65 Objects - 65 Explorers

      In Celebration of our 65th Anniversary this blog will publish articles showcasing the incredible objects in our collections. Bradenton’s Wunderkammer is a virtual expedition through our galleries and exhibits and sometimes even behind the scenes in private closets and chambers. Each article highlights an object from our collection as well as the explorer who originally found the object and their personal connections to our community. In featuring these individuals and objects we look to celebrate but also continue to grow, both in size and scope, always keeping a weathered eye on the horizon and our mission: to engage and inspire learners of all ages; protect, interpret and communicate scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe.


What is a Wunderkammer???  The word Wunderkammer translates into “wonder room,” and references the earliest form of museums- the "Cabinet of Curiosities". These Wunderkammer cabinets and rooms sought to showcase the world in a microcosm. They featured rocks and minerals, botanical specimens, fossilized remains of ancient life (often called Curiosities or "curies/curios" which is where the name for your home Curio cabinet came from!), human artifacts and historical relics as well as antiquities and works of art.


Popularized in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, during a great boom in exploration and discovery, the objects that filled these rooms and cabinets told the story of the world. Objects tell stories. This idea is at the heart of the Wunderkammer but also beats in the heart of museums today. We hope you enjoy reading the stories our South Florida Museum collections can tell. Our stories come from both the objects that form our collections, but also from the people who collected, studied, preserved and shared the past, and their passion, with others. We dedicate this blog to them.

Bradenton's Wunderkammer

Keris Dagger

Posted on 12/3/2013 by Samantha Sprague

The Keris: artistically crafted weapon, magical powers?

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James Brigham McFarlin, Florida Botanist & Shell Collector

Posted on 9/10/2013 by Samantha Sprague in Shells Botany

In 1949, James Brigham McFarlin relocated to Bradenton and established the nursery called Begonia Gardens. A passionate botanist and collector, McFarlin contributed greatly to the understanding of Florida flora in the first half of the 20th century. Lesser known but still greatly cherished is his shell collection which can be viewed on the 2nd floor the Museum in the Visible Storage Gallery.

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He Finds Sea Shells Down By the Sea Shore

Posted on 8/14/2013 by Samantha Sprague in Sea Shells Clendenin Malacology Conchology

William Clendenin collected over 20,000 shell specimens in his lifetime from all over the world. Taking special care to protect each of his found treasures, and keeping invaluable records on where and when they were collected, Clendenin's work is a shining example of the power of one man's personal passion for collecting.

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An Unusual Medical Device

Posted on 4/29/2013 by Samantha Sprague in Mammoth Chinese history ivory Dr. David Winters

Featured this week: the delicate curves of a lounging woman, masterfully sculpted in ivory and set upon a lacquered wooden base. Beautiful, yes, but does it offer more practical purposes than initially meet the eye?

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1927 Ford Model T

Posted on 4/15/2013 by Samantha Sprague in Model t Kreissle Forge Local History

Sporting a deep burgundy paint job, starting crank and winged radiator cap hood ornament emblazoned with "Ford", this baby is the hottest thing to ever ride on wooden wheels.

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