Valdimar Tr. Hafstein: Knowledge, Virtue, Power: Ole Worm and Museum Wormianum in Copenhagen
The first great collector in Denmark and a phenomenal figure in North European intellectual history, Ole Worm (1588-1654) was a professor of medicine at the University of Copenhagen and a Renaissance man of many talents. He is best known for his cabinet of curiosities, the Museum Wormianum, but his many other accomplishments include pioneering what became the ethnological questionnaire method in his survey of monuments and local histories in the Danish kingdom, compiling classic antiquarian tomes on runes, and collecting, studying, and publishing medieval folklore and literature. This article analyzes the life and work of Ole Worm in order to shed light on the emergence of the secular scholar as a third power in Europe, alongside the clergy and the courts, and it unpacks early modern notions of virtue and virtuosity as indices to an innovative conception of knowledge and a new phase in its relationship to power.
Keywords: Museum. Collecting, Virtuosity, Wonder, Skjöldunga saga.