Human kind has been seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloguing, displaying, storing and maintaining items and collections for millennia.
Its an in-built human condition. Some are aware of it and conscientiously collect things, seek them out and may even pay a lot of money for them and some are not so and to the outsider appear to live like slobs. In a world of chaos.
I am not sure which I camp I fall in, but I am certainly not a slob.I do believe that everyone has a collecting or hoarding habit of some sort. Some obvious, some less so, but we all do it.
I transgress. This global human condition has allowed history to be preserved from the museum quality priceless piece to the random 60′s TV show memorabilia on the dusty shelf in the dinning room. Its all collected, catalogued, categorised and cherished.
For historians and curators of museums, the answer is quite obvious. For individuals that have spent a life-time collecting hat-pins or tobacco pipes: what’s the ultimate purpose?
The Library of Alexandria was collecting books from all over the world over 4000 years ago. Charles Darwin had a vast collection of fossils and rocks from expeditions he undertook in the Beagle in the 1800′s. Education and knowledge is the reasoning behind these collections.
One reason for humans to naturally be drawn to collecting things could go back to “hunter-gather” times when early humans hunted and gathered and collected food and life-stock. Understanding the change of seasons and the lack of food-stocks for long periods in a year and adapting a strategy to counteract this problem. As humans had more time to spend doing leisure activities and began to travel and explore, collecting became more and more habitual.
A proof in point: My four-year-old has already begun his seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloguing, displaying, storing and maintaining. He has in a very short period of time acquired, from a number of sources and through a number of techniques, a vast collection of hedgehogs in all forms and sizes. Furry, porcelain and now prickly and stuffed (thanks to a crazy dad who saw one at a fair and could not resist).
For us “ordinary people”, we collect to preserve memories, recapture the nostalgia of childhood or for the obsessive love of a subject-matter.
I certainly do it for the love of it (as well as being addicted to it!) and one obvious thread is that we all collect to save something.
Why do you collect?