PRINT February 2001



It used to be that only magnates and maniacal rulers could pilfer enough objects to assemble a “significant collection.” Today, anyone can do it: Peruse the data on the Net, download what intrigues you, and share it with others in your very own “cabinet of curiosities.” After all, what’s a blogger if not a Peter the Great in digital clothes?

In theory, the Wunderkammer structure should work well on the Web. In reality, most sites that define themselves as Wunderkammern are more akin to junk stores than to treasure troves. Look hard enough, though, and you might find gems. Case in point: Marek Walczak and Martin Wattenberg’s ongoing project WonderWalker (, a viewer-participatory critique of museums and the politics of archiving commissioned by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The idea is for the visitor to insert an “object” (via a link) into a “personal cubbyhole” and then to link that object to at least one other.

Some of the more interesting links include by “Alek,” a site where one can store one's memories by date, name, and subject; and by “Rudie,” an article by Barbara Becker posted on an alien-abduction website about “The Betty Hill Conspiracy” (a well-known 1961 abduction case). John Smith’s contribution,, is an online catalogue for a window maker; postings like this one call into question Wattenberg’s stated belief that people “collect with a higher standard in mind,” knowing that others will look at their choices. Too bad there isn’t a deaccession option in the program—I bet Peter would have had one.

Jane Harris