"History isn't a a cold, dead thing but always contested and in flux." In this short video, PBS's The Art Assignment does a fine job explaining why museums matter:
The powerful and privileged have hoarded precious artifacts in museums for centuries, and it's only recently that these treasures were made available to the rest of us. What purpose did museums serve? And why does every city have one today?
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Documentarian Ronni Thomas of the always-excellent Midnight Archive video series tours Calvin von Crush's creepy, interesting, and real collection of weird things. Welcome to the wunderkammer!
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The Mini Museum is a small, self-contained cabinet of curiosity in a lucite box. This third edition contains such wonders as a Spinosaurus bone, rotor from a WWII Enigma machine, sliver of one of Pelé's soccer balls, and a tiny swatch from Steve Jobs' turtleneck. It's $300 (or $129 for a smaller collection). Maybe the next edition will come with Madonna's pap smear! Creator Hans Fex writes:
In 1977, my father was a research scientist and a Director at the National Institutes of Health. Growing up, we had a subscription to every great science magazine - and living near Washington DC we visited the Smithsonian museums and saw dinosaur bones, meteorites, and rockets almost every weekend. My father kept an amazing collection of artifacts at his lab and also at home.
After a trip to Malta, he returned with some artifacts which he embedded into epoxy resin. I had never seen this done before and it was beautiful.
Then, all at once, I saw it... A grand collection within a manageable space that I could share with others.
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See sample pages from this book at Wink.
Morbid Curiosities: Collections of the Uncommon and the Bizarre
by Paul Gambino
Laurence King Publishing
2016, 160 pages, 7 x 9.8 x 1 inches (hardcover)
$22 Buy a copy on Amazon
Dark and delightful, artistic and unusual, Morbid Curiosities: Collections of the Uncommon and the Bizarre is a glimpse into 18 fascinating collections of oddities. But more than that, it is also a collection of the collectors themselves. Author Paul Gambino’s familiarity with these traders of the macabre has granted him access to their greatest finds and most beloved possessions and in turn into their psyches as well.
We are talking about the types of things that most of us don’t encounter grouped together outside of museums: Jars of diseased organs and the owner’s own placenta; shelves of human skulls of various shapes and histories; exhumed items; masks; ephemera; the letters and art of serial killers; antique wax anatomical dummies; shrunken heads and mummies; parts of deformed people and animals; vintage prosthetic devices; poisons; Ouija boards and séance contraptions; a hangman’s record book and tape measure...and the list goes on.
Gambino presents the collections to us succinctly, with great visuals and a thoughtful introduction. And in doing so, he also presents to us a look at the folks who champion these items, who go to the ends of the earth to acquire them, who save them from garbage bins and bonfires, and who display them lovingly, beautifully, as objet d’art.
Their collections are every bit as ghoulish as you would imagine, but the collectors themselves are a variety of folks with regular lives. Read the rest
Gallium is a metal that melts at 86 degrees F. It's more fun than playing with mercury, and probably safer, too (it *will* temporarily stain your skin gray though, because it's "wet" when liquid and will adhere to the crevices of your skin). My daughter's friend brought some over a couple of weeks ago, and it was such a hit at our house that we had to get some of our own. This 20 gram sample is just $10 including shipping on Amazon. Read the rest
You can't walk up to the Treasures in the Trash collection in the New York City Sanitation Department's east Harlem warehouse, but if you're lucky enough to get an in, you'll find retired sanitation worker Nelson Molina's meticulously organized displays of the wonders he rescued from the landfill. Read the rest
Danish artist Steffen Dam creates exquisite, minimalist "cabinets of curiosity" fashioned from glass and containing specimens of his own creation.
"My aim is to describe the world as I see it," Dam says. "One could also say to describe what’s not tangible and understandable with our everyday senses. My cylinders contain nothing that exists in the ocean, my specimens are plausible but not from this world, my plants are only to be found in my compost heap, and my flowers are still unnamed."
See more at his site: Steffen Dam (via Instagram/saatchi_gallery)
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Seattle's Anthony Hicks has an Etsy store filled with beautiful grotesqueries, including carny sideshow gaffs (come for the feejee mermaid, stay for the mummified head!), but also tooth-filled pocketwatches and artfully preserved homunculi. Read the rest
This stunning cabinet of curiosities is on display at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Curated by Bronwyn Minton, the exhibition, titled "Wonder Cabinet: A Collection of Curiosities," consists of more than 300 objects from the museum's permanent collection, borrowed from other wunderkammern, and new work created by artists Minton invited to participate. In true cabinet of curiosities form, real specimens and artifacts from natural history are mixed with gaffes, oddities, and mysteries. The show runs until August 31, 2014. Below is another view of the gallery and a detail photo of BB pal Isabel Rucker's contribution, "Aven-Mus Dentatis." Read the rest
My friend Joanna Ebenstein of Morbid Anatomy is raising funds to create a new public cabinet of curiosity within a 3-floor, 4,200 square foot building in Brooklyn, New York. (Video pitch below.) Collectors Weekly's Lisa Hix talked to Joanna about her myriad efforts to bring the weird, wonderful, dark, and beautiful into the public eye.
"Learning to Love Death: New Museum Takes a Walk on the Shadow Side"
Donate to the Morbid Anatomy Museum! Read the rest
The always-excellent Midnight Archive visits artist and Oddities host Ryan Matthew Cohn and his massive collection of skulls, shrunken heads, and other curiosities.
Oddities' Ryan Cohn's apartment
Mummies and Monkey Skulls Read the rest
Hidden inside a nondescript freight elevator in a NYC TriBeCa alley lies Museum, a delightful cabinet-of-curiosities drawing from weird collections around the globe. Museum is now open for its second season and includes such items as: "Personal Ephemera from Al Goldstein, The Rocks and Tools from Tom Sach's Mars expedition, Objects Made For Prisoners or by Prisoners in US Prisons, Fake Vomit from Around the World, Tip Jars collected by Jim Walrod, Surf and Turf Potato Chips, and more."
Museum Read the rest
Canadian artist Ian Baxter's "Animal Preserve" series from 1999 featured hundreds of stuffed animals "preserved" in liquid-filled jars neatly organized on shelves. (via FP) Read the rest
The World Discovery Box looks to be a fantastic starter wunderkammer for kids (and adults)! The cabinet of curiosity is preloaded with rocks, fossils, shells, bugs in lucite, and other natural and scientific wonders, plus plenty of space to add your own oddities. It's available in three sizes, priced from $75 to $289. What a great idea! Read the rest
Alex in Sydney, Australia collects everything except "glassware & porcelain (unless it holds beer of course)" and he has an enormous shed in which he arranges his many collections "just-so" for best breathtakingness:
* Tools: workshop / garden / unusual tools (rustier the better - de-rusting is a favorite pastime)
* Oil Cans, oilers, grease guns.
* Still Cameras / Movie Cameras / Slide Projectors / Movie Projectors and related items.
* Breweriana: drink trays, tankards/steins, cork screws, soda siphons, coasters, bottles etc
* Militaria: esp trench art
* Weaponry: faux: guns, swords, spears, jousting lance, mace, battle axe, war hammer etc
* Native Spears n Bows (some real and some faux)
* Maritime: boats, oars, rowlocks, telescopes, ship lights, ship candle holder etc
* Fishing: rods, reels, baskets, hooks, floats, lures, nets, spear-guns etc
* Pirate related (how do you know if you're a pirate? . . . you just argh!)
* Kitchenalia (yes it's sad - but I like anything old - and they're sort of tools?)
The man cave to beat all man sheds - collecting wise
(Thanks, Uncle Wilco, via Submitterator)
Julian Barnes On His Favorite Wunderkammer - Boing Boing
The Wunderkammer that is Webb Gallery - Boing Boing
Pesco's talk from TEDxSoMa: The World as a Wunderkammer - Boing Boing
Crocheted Wunderkammer - Boing Boing
Andy Paiko's wunderkammer of glass sculpture - Boing Boing
Patrick Segui's wunderkammer art - Boing Boing
Wacko Jacko's wunderkammer for sale - Boing Boing
Wunderkammer-esque serving trays - Boing Boing Read the rest