BOOKS: The Ocean At Home: An Illustrated History of the Aquarium
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2006:
The Ocean At Home:
An Illustrated History of the Aquarium
by Bernd Brunner
Princeton Architectural Press
(37 E. 7th Ave., New York, NY 10003), 2005.
144 pages, hardcover. $24.95.
Originally published in German, printed in China, newly
reissued in English, The Ocean At Home is a surprisingly fascinating
in-depth study of a seemingly esoteric topic whose evolution in the
19th and early 20th centuries paralleled the rise of the humane
movement, anti-vivisectionism, and human awareness of ecology.
Even before Charles Darwin produced On The Origin of Species,
the 19th century brought an explosion of interest in nature study,
especially among the fast-growing middle classes of Europe after the
Industrial Revolution removed large numbers of people from routine
daily immersion in raising plants and animals.
Author Bernd Brunner does not delve deeply into the greater
cultural context of home aquarium development, but is aware of it,
and explores the sociology of human interest in aquariums to the
extent that his sources permit.
Along the way, Brunner explains how the advent of home
aquariums changed perceptions of the ocean, as aquarium builders
became increasingly aware of the need to keep a balance at all times
among plant and animal species, in order to keep any of them alive.