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Mayborn Museum Complex
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Waco, TX 76798-7154
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Baylor > Home > Exhibits > Strecker's Cabinets of Curiosities

Strecker's Cabinets of Curiosities

    The mount was generously donated
    by Mr. and Mrs. Strasburger of
    Temple, Texas.
Stop by to meet our newest addition to the exhibit, Baby! Don't be fooled by his name because he's anything but small. Baby is the nickname given to this longhorn steer that lived to be more than 25 years old and has horns that span nearly 8 feet!

The Strecker Museum held the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating natural history museum in Texas until it closed in September 2003 in preparation for its move to the Mayborn Museum Complex. What began as a teaching collection grew into a museum that was known as the Baylor Museum. It was housed in a number of buildings on the Baylor campus, including the Carroll Science Building, Pat Neff Hall and the Sid Richardson Science Building. Over the years, numerous students as well as the public were introduced to the wonders of natural science at the museum.

Self-educated librarian and naturalist John K. Strecker served as curator of the museum from 1903 until his death in 1933; the museum was re-named the Strecker Museum in his honor.

The first exhibit in the Mayborn Museum Complex's natural history section is named Strecker's Cabinets of Curiosities. Many of the beloved artifacts from the Strecker Museum's collections, such as the tree cross-section and the humpback whale skull, are on display. The room is patterned after the style of early natural history museums. At that time, museum items were presented purely for visual entertainment and shock value and were not labeled.

A wide variety of fascinating objects is on display on the shelves and in the drawers of the Victorian style cabinets. Many of these artifacts were gifts to the museum from Baptist missionaries who were serving around the world.

One example is a Venus' Flower Basket sponge, or Euplectella aspergillum, from the Philippine Islands. Traditionally given as a wedding present in many Asian cultures, this type of sponge also became popular during England's Victorian period. The papier mache dog and pig sculptures made from thousands of dollars of Confederate money macerated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury are definitely curiosities. Another interesting example is the box of twenty-four kinds of beetles from the Americas and Africa. Also on display is a jug from the Iron Age, dating to c. 700 B.C.E. that was found on the coast of Cyprus. You can also see a 3,000 lb humpback whale skull measuring 19 feet! These are only a few of the amazing, beautiful, and sometimes strange objects to be discovered in the Cabinets of Curiosities.

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