A MORBID MUSEUM GROWS IN BROOKLYN
A collection of all things strange and wonderful (a place after my own heart), the Morbid Anatomy Museum is celebrating its first week anniversary today in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. “Surveying the interstices of art and medicine, death and culture” because, really, someone has to do it, this jewel box of a museum displays all manner of chilling and grisly mementos of mortality—from death masks and human skulls to deformed animals and postmortem photographs. You think they may be having problems finding a night security guard?
(Photo: Sai Mokthtari, with more images from Gothamist here)
THE AURORA AIRSHIP
About 117 years ago practically to the day, something extraordinary crashed in Aurora, Texas. Here’s what happened according to the local papers:
From the Dallas Morning News, April 17, 1897
About 6 o’clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing around the country. It was traveling due north and much nearer the earth than before. Evidently some of the machinery was out of order, for it was making a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour, and gradually settling toward the earth. It sailed over the public square and when it reached the north part of town it collided with the tower of Judge Proctor’s windmill and went into pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge’s flower garden. The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, while his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world. Mr. T.J. Weems, the U.S. Army Signal Service officer at this place and an authority on astronomy gives it as his opinion that the pilot was a native of the planet Mars. Papers found on his person, evidently the records of his travels, are written in some unknown hieroglyphics and cannot be deciphered. This ship was too badly wrecked to form any conclusion as to its construction or motive power. It was built of an unknown metal, resembling somewhat a mixture of aluminum and silver, and it must have weighed several tons. The town is today full of people who are viewing the wreckage and gathering specimens of strange metal from the debris. The pilot’s funeral will take place tomorrow.
R.I.P. little alien pilot. Maybe one day we’ll uncover what really happened to you.
IMAGE: The San Francisco Call, 1896
THE FLAYED ONE
(A possible conversation at the Museum of Natural History in NYC)
A. Oh, look at this unusual sculpture over here.
B. What does the label say?
A. Hmm…”Tall terracotta figure from the Toltec period…called Xipec Totec, ‘the flayed one’ whose powers relate to fertility and spring planting.”
B. What does “flayed” mean?
A. “It represents a practice repellent to us: a person wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim…”
A. Oh, look at that pretty doggy sculpture over there.
PHOTO: The Flayed One, AMNH
SELF PORTRAITS OF THE DAMNED
These wonderfully disturbing images from Thirteenth Floor remind me of outtakes from Pickman’s studio.
IMAGES: Thirteenth Floor, Impale Design
Looking for that special bizarre yet obscure item to complete your cabinet of curiosities? I recommend shopping EarthSeaWarrior (a “Neo-Nostalgic boutique specializing in One-of-a-Kind peculiar home decor misﬁts.”) where you can uncover a treasure trove of morbid memorabilia, ranging from a taxidermy gator head swallowing an antique baby doll to this bat skeleton hanging in a bell jar. Happy Halloween!
Yes, that’s a porpoise fetus.
IMAGE: From the collection of the Bell Pettigrew Museum, St. Andrews, Scotland
WHAT PUPPETS DO BEHIND YOUR BACK
Apparently, they watch television on teeny-tiny sets. That’s the conceit behind Armchair Parade, now on display in the Artist’s Studio at BRIC House in Brooklyn. Dozens of nightmare creations by theater artist and director Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter, Big Fish)—part human, part animal, and part demonic—line the large room all glued to flickering videos from filmmaker Ragnar Freidank with a soundtrack composed by musician Mark Stewart. You can even sit down and join them if you dare. But hurry before the puppets turn off their televisions for good on October 13.
Imagine my delight coming face to face with this stuffed alligator at the Bell Pettigrew Museum at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, after seeing so many of his relatives adorning kunstkammers throughout history. No label copy as to when this bad boy was collected, but the museum’s origins date back to 1838.