Full title:

Brenna, B. 'The Frames of Specimens: Glass Cases in Bergen Museum Around 1900', in Thorsen, L.E., Rader, K.A. and Dodd, A. (eds.), Animals on Display: the Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History (Pennsylvania University Press, 2013), pp. 37-57.


Addresses the role of glass cases in the making of museum nature during the late nineteenth century. Drawing Isobel Armstrong's Victorian Glassworlds, as well as an essay by Walter Benjamin, it uses the case of the Bergen Museum of Natural History to 'query what role glass and the glass case play in constructions of museum nature and, in particular, constructions of animals' (37) at his time. 'How do glass cases construct museum nature in Bergen, and how do glass cases construct "the museum"?' (39)

In conclusion, it argues that the cases in fact ended up dominating museum spaces at the expense of zoological objects themselves: 'Looking at the many pictures of museum galleries from this period, the degree to which the glass cases have become the most important features of the room is striking. They prevent our investigation of the objects, throwing themselves on us with an insistence of their particular materiality. The great paradox is that they were installed in the museums to make museum nature visible and legible for the greatest possible number of people.' (54)