Obscura Day, March 20: visits to wondrous, curious, and esoteric places

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Hi everyone! Pleased to be back on Boing Boing again. Last time I was here with Dylan Thuras we announced the launch of the Atlas Obscura, a user-generated compendium of the world's "wondrous, curious, and esoteric" places.

Dylan and I are excited to let everyone know about the upcoming real-world manifestation of the Atlas: International Obscura Day, taking place on Saturday, March 20th, 2010. More than just cataloging the world's curious, uncelebrated spots, we want to encourage folks to actually go out and explore them. That's what we're going to be doing en masse, all over the world, on March 20th.

So far we've seeded Obscura Day with events in almost 40 cities and towns around the world. We're getting access to private collections and museum back rooms, exploring hidden treasures, and leading expeditions to places that aren't normally open to the public.

We hope to have Obscura Day happenings taking place in dozens more cities on every continent. But we can't do it alone. Please consider volunteering to help organize an Obscura Day event in your own hometown. If you want to get involved, email us at info@atlasobscura.com and we'll help you make it happen.

Why are we doing this, you ask? Well, because we think it will be a lot of fun. We love these sorts of places, and we think they deserve to be celebrated. We believe you don't have to go to the Grand Canyon to experience wonder, or to the Smithsonian to indulge your sense of curiosity. These experiences are all around us, if you only know where to look. Consider us UNESCO's weird little brother, on a mission to celebrate and hopefully help preserve the world's lesser-known "wondrous, curious, and esoteric" spots.

Here are a few of the Obscura Day events we're especially excited about:

– A back-room tour of the Mutter Museum with Joanna Ebenstein of Morbid Anatomy.

– An expedition led by BldgBlog's Geoff Manaugh to explore California City, a haunting unbuilt town in the Mojave desert that was planned to be the third biggest city in California.

– Michael John Grist is leading a tour of the Tokyo G-Cans, the world's largest underwater drainage system (image top).


– Steve Erenberg (aka Radio Guy) is opening up his private collection of gorgeous scientific instruments in Westchester County (image above).

– Thomas Bolton is leading a walking tour in London of the lost River Fleet.

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– Loren Coleman is giving a personal tour of his International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine (image above).

– Leander Robinson is leading a tour of one of the world's largest pneumatic tube systems at the Stanford Medical Center (recently featured on Boing Boing).

– Near Sydney, Australia, we're going to explore the incredible Newnes Glow Worm Tunnel.

– In Portland, we're going to be at the only undergraduate-run nuclear reactor in the world.

– At the Niagara Falls Science Museum, Nick Dalacu is going to be reproducing classic, historic science experiments with his collection of antique scientific instruments.

The good/bad news is that many of these events are filling up almost as fast as we announce them. The good/good news is that there is almost no limit to the number of these we can organize, with your help.

If you're interested in organizing an Obscura Day tour or event, or even just have a suggestion about a place that would make an awesome Obscura Day venue, e-mail us at info@atlasobscura.com, and our team will help you make it happen.

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