Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lecture: "Anatomical Venuses, The Slashed Beauty, and Fetuses Dancing a Jig," University College London, Thursday October 7, 6:00 PM

For all you Londoner's out there: on Thursday, October 7th at 6:00 PM, I will be giving a free lecture at University College London about anatomical museums and their curious denizens, heavily illustrated with many photographs I have been collecting over the years, such as those seen above.

The lecture is free and open-to-the-public. Full details follow; hope to see you there!
Anatomical Venuses, The Slashed Beauty, and Fetuses Dancing a Jig:
A Journey into the Curious World of the Medical Museum

Date: Thursday, October 7th
6 PM
Location: UCL, Department of History of Art
20 Gordon Square, WC1E 6BT London, Room 3-4 (first floor)

Tonight's lecture will introduce you to the the Medical Museum and its curious denizens, from the Anatomical Venus (see above) to the Slashed Beauty, the allegorical fetal skeleton tableau to the taxidermied bearded lady, the flayed horseman of the apocalypse to the three fetuses dancing a jig. The lecture will contextualize these artifacts by situating them within their historical context via a discussion of the history of medical modeling, a survey of the great artists of the genre, and an examination of the other death-related diversions which made up the cultural landscape at the time that these objects were originally created, collected, and exhibited.
You can download an invitation to the event by clicking here.

All Images From The Secret Museum Exhibition;" Top to bottom:
  1. Anatomical Venuses," Wax Models with human hair in rosewood and Venetian glass cases,The Josephinum, Workshop of Clemente Susini of Florence circa 1780s, Vienna, Austria
  2. Wax Model of Eye Surgery, Musée Orfila, Paris. Courtesy Université Paris Descartes
  3. Fetal Skeleton Tableau, 17th Century, University Backroom, Paris

Morbid Anatomy Library and Observatory, Open Studios, This Saturday, October 2nd, 12-6

This Saturday, October 2, please join the Morbid Anatomy Library (as seen above) and sister space Observatory as we open our spaces to the public as part of the 14th annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour, or "A.G.A.S.T." There will be snacks, beverages, art, artifacts, and, of course, books.

Following are the full details; Very much hope to see you there!
14th annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour (A.G.A.S.T.)
Saturday October 2nd
12-6 PM
543 Union Street at Nevins, Brooklyn
Free and Open to the Public

Directions: Enter the Morbid Anatomy Library and Observatory via Proteus Gowanus Gallery

R or M train to Union Street in Brooklyn: Walk two long blocks on Union (towards the Gowanus Canal) to Nevins Street. 543 Union Street is the large red brick building on right. Go right on Nevins and left down alley through large black gates. Gallery is the second door on the left.

F or G train to Carroll Street: Walk one block to Union. Turn right, walk two long blocks on Union towards the Gowanus Canal, cross the bridge, take left on Nevins, go down the alley to the second door on the left.
For more about the Morbid Anatomy Library, click here. You can find out more information about A.G.A.S.T., and get a full list of participants, by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory and the exhibition now on view by clicking here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Drottningholm Court Theatre, 1764-1766, Stockholm

Today I visited one of the most incredible spaces I have ever had the honor to momentarily inhabit: the Drottningholm Court Theatre, a former royal summer theatre at the Drottningholm Royal Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Drottningholm Court Theatre was described memorably by our tour guide as "an intact baroque theater unique for never having been restored." This intactness includes not just paint, chandeliers, stage, and viewing boxes but also extends--astoundingly!--to the stage machinery and special effects, which are not only original but also still used in productions! The sets and "side flats" are not original, but are utterly convincing and painstaking reproductions in canvas and wood from originals found under a meter of dust when the theatre was rediscovered in 1921. The theatre also has--and continues to use!--machinery for lowering a person from the ceiling, as in the case of a goddess descending on a cloud, as well and a trap door to be used in such cases as "drowning heroines or sudden appearances."

During the summer, the Drottningholm Court Theatre stages 18th Century operas and ballets using these replica sets and the original stage machinery to create a completely immersive 18th Century theatre experience; unfortunately for me, the productions had already ended for the season before I arrived, so I had to content myself with volunteering to operate the "gale machine" (a wooden wheel whirled around inside a tight canvas strip producing with its friction a sound remarkably like howling winds) while my volunteer-partner worked the thunder machine--a box of rocks tossed this way and that by the pull of a rope.

The video above helps give a sense of the charm and wonder of these wonderful antique sets and machineries in motion where my words fail; both the video and a visit to this really fantastic--in ever sense of the word--theatre are highly recommended! I am already fantasizing about a return trip just to see The Magic Flute in this environment.

To find out more about the Drottningholm Court Theatre, click here.

Thanks so much to friend, friend-of-the-blog, and author of the wonderful book Death, Modernity, and the Body: Sweden 1870-1940 Eva Åhrén for telling me about this incredible place, and for all her other wonderful Sweden tips as well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beautiful Irish Medical Photographs, The Burns Archive, 1870s

The photographs above, dating from the 1870s, picture patients who were operated upon by 19th Century surgeon Edward Stamer O’Grady; these photos, all drawn from the incredible Burns Archive, were featured--paired with their original case histories!--in the most recent issue of Scope Medicine in Focus.

Full story can be found here; you can see a PDF of the article--with additional images--by clicking here.

All images ©2010 The Burns Archive; From top to bottom:
  1. Patient of Edward Stamer O'Grady
  2. A 50-Year-Old Laborer "MM," Admitted Feb 17, 187
  3. Once the 27 Ounce Tumor Was Removed, the Patient "Went Home Quite Well."

"Paradiso Contrapasso," Upcoming Exhibition at Observatory, Call for Works, Deadline October 5

Hi All! Sorry for the silence; I am on the road, and the internet has been scarce!

I break the silence with an exciting announcement; the next Observatory exhibition is in the works, and the curators--Gerry Newland of Observatory along with friend of Morbid Anatomy Lord Whimsy and his wife Susan--have put out a call for works! You can find out more about the show--wonderfully entitled "Paradiso Contrapasso,"--and all the specifications for submissions below; hope to see your work in the show, or, if not, than to see you at the opening party on Thursday October 14th!

Full call for works follows:
A Call To Artists: Observatory presents: Paradiso Contrapasso

Submissions due: October 5, 2010
Pieces Due: October 11, 2010
Exhibition dates: October 14 - November 28th, 2010

To compliment the recent opening of Paradise, a year long event at Proteus Gowanus, Observatory explores the theme: Paradiso Contrapasso. In Dante's Inferno, Paradiso Contrapasso distinguishes each sinner by making his or
her punishment uniquely appropriate to the committed sin, so that every soul inhabits a Hell all its own.

For example, consider the story of Paolo and Francesca:
An unlikely marriage is proposed between the beautiful Francesca and the rich, but ugly Gianciotto. Paolo, the handsome brother of Gianciotto seduces the young bride and they become lovers. When Gianciotto discovers their indiscretion, he murders them both. In Hell, Paolo and Francesca are fused together in an eternal embrace, wishing only to be separated.

As Dante journeys through Purgatorio and Paradisio, he does not revisit this technique of contrapasso. For our event, however, Observatory encourages artists to consider divine comedic retribution in all of its possible representations, and from sources such as the Bible and religious and esoteric cosmologies, the ethical
philosophies of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, Symbolist poetry, the works of Roald Dahl, the Wizard of Oz, Cautionary Tales, Folklore and Fairy Stories, the Twilight Zone, Modern Dystopias, etc. The emphasis should be on "Divine" and "Comedy", and on our superstitious fear of getting what we wish for!

G.F. Newland, co-founder of Observatory Gallery, and Allen and Susan Crawford of Plankton Art Co. will co-curate.

Eligibility: All artists working in any media. (There is limited space for sculptural and free-standing works.)

Submissions: (Please include all information. Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered.)
  1. Up to 5 images. Digital file submissions will be accepted via email. Digital files must be in JPEG or PDF format, resolution set to 72 dpi. Please number images to correspond to Image List.
  2. Image list. Numbered to correspond with your image submissions. Include image #, your name, title, date of work, medium, size and price. You may also include a brief description for each image, however this isn’t required.
  3. A one page résumé. Please include a three line bio, your contact information and an email address.
  4. An artist’s statement. No longer than 300 words.

Deadline: Submissions must be received by October 5; All pieces must be received no later than October 11th, 2010.

Gallery commission for sold art: 30%

Return of Submission Materials: Include a SASE if you want your materials to be returned. Make sure there is sufficient postage. Materials without postage will not be returned.

Drop Off: Drop off of accepted artwork will be October 11th and 12th noon to 2pm. Mailed artwork must arrive by October 11th and include return shipping label/postage/etc.

Pick Up: Artists are responsible for picking up artwork on TBA. Return of mailed artwork with return postage will begin on November 28th.

Email submissions to:
By post: Observatory 543 Union St #1E, Brooklyn, NY 11215
See below for full details; for more information or to submit work, email Gerry Newland at

Image: The Souls of Paola and Francesca from Gustave Doré's Illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy

Friday, September 10, 2010

“Memento Mori: The Birth and Resurrection of Postmortem Photography,” Merchant's House Museum with the Burns Archive, New York, Through November 29th

The New York Times blog just ran a brief story on a new exhibit I have been dying (sic) to see: “Memento Mori: The Birth and Resurrection of Postmortem Photography,” an exhibition exploring memorial photography then and now, curated in a collaboration between Eva Ulz and the incomparable Burns Archive of New York.

The exhibition--on view at the Merchant's House Museum in lower Manhattan until November 29th--features a collection of antique memorial photography drawn from the incredible Burns Archive curated alongside similarly-themed photographs by contemporary artists such as Joel-Peter Witkin, Sally Mann, Hal Hirshorn, Marian St. Laurent and Sarah Lohman. This intriguing looking exhibition takes as its theme the role of post-mortem photographs at different cultural moments.

As the article explains:
“People dealt with death differently in the 19th century,” says Eva Ulz, the curator of “Memento Mori: The Birth and Resurrection of Postmortem Photography” at the Merchant’s House Museum. “People looked forward to a reunion in heaven. Creating portraits was considered a precursor to that heavenly reunion. They shouldn’t be thought of as creepy.”

As much as it is about religious belief, the show — which was organized in conjunction with the Burns Archive and includes some 145 postmortem images and ephemera taken between the 1840s and the early 1900s — takes as its main subject the role of photography in everyday life, then and now. As the 20th century began to unfold and photography became much more common, Ulz says, postmortem images were sapped of their ritualistic importance.

To help put that shift in context, Ulz asked five contemporary shooters, including Sally Mann, Joel-Peter Witkin, Hal Shirshorn and Sarah Lohman, to contribute their own take on the postmortem photograph. The photographer Marian St. Laurent, who created an actual coffin called “Our Darling: A Memorial of Photography,” sees the exhibit as “a remembrance of photo negatives in the digital age. As we push the limits of advanced seeing in technology, we’ve never been more blind to the power of images.”

Ulz hopes “Momento Mori” will create in viewers a deeper understanding of their relationship with photography today. “I hope they get an idea of where they and their images fit in the cycle of life,” she says. “If you had to choose, which one picture would you want to represent you for all eternity?”
The show--which celebrates the publication of the Burns Archives’ latest book Sleeping Beauty III Memorial Photography: The Children--is on view at the Merchant's House Museum until November 29; you can find out more about the exhibition by clicking here. You can find out more about the new book Sleeping Beauty III Memorial Photography: The Children--which joins its predecessors Sleeping Beauty I and II--by clicking here. To find out more about The Burns Archive, click here; to check out its new and wonderful blog, click here. You can read this NY Times Blog post in its entirety by clicking here.

Thanks to Jim Edmonson of the Dittrick Museum for drawing my attention to this article!

All images from Sleeping Beauty III Memorial Photography the Children/Stanley B. Burns, MD, as found on the article website.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"The Wunderkammer," Installation by Georg Laue, Me Collectors Room, Berlin

I just came across a rather interesting looking new exhibition at a gallery called the Me Collectors Room in Berlin. Entitled "The Wunderkammer," this new permanent installation is the work of antique dealer/cabinetist Georg Laue, proprietor of the famed Kunstkammer Georg Laue in Munich, Germany, and seems--as you can see in the images above--to include a pretty astounding collection of fine memento mori, ivory Anatomical Venuses, and turned ivory wonders.

From the website:

The WUNDERKAMMER rekindles the tradition of the Kunst- and Wunderkammer of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. It imparts an insight into the world view and the standard of knowledge of past centuries and does just what a Wunderkammer was able to do between 200 and 500 years ago: transport the visitor into a realm of sheer astonishment — whether by means of the legendary unicorn, exposed latterly by the cognoscenti as the tusk of a narwhal, an amber mirror flooded with light, or cabinets that only reveal their mysteries to the observant viewer.

The quality of the exhibits, numbering in excess of 150, is unique and makes the WUNDERKAMMER one of the most significant private collections of its kind. The juxtaposition of works from different cultures generates its very own effect. The permanent collection places an emphasis on Vanitas (“Consider the fact that you will die”). In the Baroque period, death was already staged with a mixture of devotion, interest, and humour. The scope for interpretation of this topic is manifested by an anatomical model dating from the second half of the 17th century. The organs and the foetus of the laid out body of a pregnant woman can be removed and prompt one to indulge in a playful handling of this miniature.

The objects in the WUNDERKAMMER exert an incredible fascination and will captivate the curious with a vision of a small, encyclopaedic, unique universe, which ultimately contributing to a deeper understanding of the correlations between art, nature, and science.
This exhibition definitely looks worth a visit! And, for the more curious among you, theme-specific tours of the collection are also available in which, as the website explains, "existential themes such as Eros, death, and transience, as well as the genesis of the collection, form the central focus."

You can find out more about Georg Laue and his Munich shop clicking here. You can find out about more about the exhibit by clicking here.

Found via Wunderkammer. All images from the Me Collectors Room Berlin website.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Seeking Private Collections in Scandinavia, Great Britain, and Germany for "Private Cabinets" Photography Project

As alluded to in a few recent posts [1, 2], a week from tomorrow I will be embarking on a trip to Scandinavia and Great Britain with perhaps (time depending) a touch of Germany along the way.

Regular readers might recall that I currently at work on a long-term project exploring extraordinary private collectors and collections, working title: Private Cabinets (more here); while on my travels, I have scheduled to visit and photograph a few more private collections for inclusion in this series and am on the lookout for yet more.

If any Morbid Anatomy readers out there know of any private wunderkammern or extraordinary private collections featuring medical museum type artifacts, waxworks, human remains, scientific models, old natural history, carnival/circus/sideshow or marvels or curiosities of any sort in these parts of the world, or have, perhaps, such a collection of their own they would like to share, please email me at Museum and attraction suggestions in the same topic areas also greatly appreciated!

To find out more about the ongoing "Private Cabinet" series, click here. All images above are from the epic private collection of Tim Knox and Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Collection of London, England as featured in my recent Secret Museum exhibition. Click on images to see much larger, finer images, and click here to see the complete Secret Museum collection.

‘Contemporary Medical Science and Technology as a Challenge to Museums’, 15th Bi-Annual EAMHMS Congress, Copenhagen, September 16-18

In a few weeks--from September 16th through 18th--the 15th biannual conference of the European Association of Museums for the History of Medical Sciences--to be hosted by the Medical Museion--will be in full effect at the Medical Museion of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The topic of this year's congress--"Contemporary medical science and technology as a challenge to museums"--will be debated and discussed by a variety of museum practitioners and enthusiasts, from curators to museum directors to artists to bloggers such as myself. I will be presenting my paper--"The private, curious, and niche collection: what they can teach us about exhibiting new medicine"-- on Thursday the 16th. Other participants will include New York based artist and SVA professor Suzanne Anker, the Wellcome Collection's Ken Arnold, and friend-of-Morbid-Anatomy James Edmonson of the Dittrick Museum.

This is sure to be a thought provoking and fascinating congress. Hope very much to see you there!

Full schedule follows:
  • Thomas Söderqvist: Why this conference now?
  • Kim Sawchuk: Biotourism and biomediation
  • Kerstin Hulter Åsberg: Uppsala Biomedical Center: A mirror of modern medical history – how can it be displayed?
  • Wendy Atkinson and René Mornex: A major health museum in Lyon
  • Robert Martensen: Integrating the physical and the virtual in exhibitions, archives, and historical research at the National Institutes of Health
  • Ramunas Kondratas: The use of new media in medical history museums
  • Danny Birchall: ‘Medical London’, Flickr, and the photography of everyday medicine
  • Joanna Ebenstein: The private, curious, and niche collection: what they can teach us about exhibiting new medicine
  • Judy M. Chelnick: The challenges of collecting contemporary medical science and technology at the Smithsonian Institution
  • James Edmonson: Collection plan for endoscopy, documenting the period 1996-2011
  • John Durant: Preserving the material culture of contemporary life science and technology
  • Stella Mason: Medical museums, contemporary medicine and the casual visitor
  • Alex Tyrell: New voices: what can co-curation bring to a contemporary medical gallery?
  • Jan Eric Olsén: The portable clinic: healthcare gadgets for home use
  • Yin Chung Au: Seeing is communicating: possible roles of Med-Art in communicating contemporary scientific process with the general public in digital age
  • Nina Czegledy: At the intersection of art and medicine
  • Lucy Lyons: What am I looking at?
  • Henrik Treimo: Invisible World
  • Victoria Höög: The optic invasion of the body. Epistemic approaches to current biomedical images
  • Ken Arnold and Thomas Söderqvist: A manifesto for making science, technology and medicine museums
  • Morten Skydsgaard: The exhibition ‘The Incomplete Child’: boundaries of the body and the guest
  • Sniff Andersen Nexø: Showing fetal realities: visibility, display, performance
  • Suzanne Anker: Inside/Out: fetal specimens through a 21st Century lens
  • Yves Thomas and Catherine Cuenca: Multimedia contributions to contemporary medical museology
  • Nurin Veis: How do we tell the story of the cochlear implant?
  • Jim Garretts: Bringing William Astbury into the 21st Century: the Thackray Museum and the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology in partnership
  • Adam Bencard: Being molecular
  • Roger Cooter and Claudia Stein: Visual things and universal meanings: aids posters, the politics of globalization, and history
  • Karen Ingham: Medicine, materiality and museology: collaborations between art, medicine and the museum space
  • Silvia Casini: Curating the biomedical archive-fever
  • Thomas Schnalke: Dissolving matters. The end of all medical museums’ games?
You can find out more about the congress by clicking here. You can read more about the Medical Museion via a few recent blog posts, the first being the Dittrick Museum's (here) and the other being that of The Sterile Eye (here).

Image: From The Sterile Eye; Caption: Copy of écorché statue by Theobald Stein. Original from 1869.

Amazing Medical Woodblock Prints, Japan, 19th Century

Just came across this really fantastic and unusual collection of 19th Century Japanese medical woodblock prints on the Pink Tentacle website, which sourced them from the extensive University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Japanese Woodblock Print Collection website.

As the UCSF website explains:
The UCSF Japanese Woodblock Print Collection consists of four hundred Japanese woodblock prints on health-related themes. Of those, more than half are colorfully illustrated in the ukiyo-e manner, the remainder being printed single-sheet texts. From the treatment and prevention of diseases like smallpox, measles, and cholera, to the stages of pregnancy and drug advertisements, these prints offer a unique window into traditional Japanese attitudes toward health and illness.

The majority of the prints date to the mid- to late nineteenth century, when Japan was opening to the West after almost two hundred and fifty years of self-imposed isolation. Thus, they provide valuable pictorial evidence for the effect of Western medical science on traditional beliefs and practices.

Five subject areas broadly define the collection. The treatment and prevention of three contagious diseases; smallpox, measles, and cholera; are topics for eighty of the prints. A related category includes prints in which Buddhist or Shinto deities intervene to ensure a cure. Pregnancy and women's health issues form a distinct theme, including several images of the stages of gestation. Because foreigners were thought to carry disease to Japan, the collection also includes several maps of Nagasaki, where the Dutch were confined during the Edo period, as well as prints depicting foreigners and their ships. Drug advertisements from the nineteenth century make up the largest category...

The woodblock prints in this collection offer a fascinating visual account of Japanese medical knowledge in the late Edo and Meiji periods. Collectively, they record a gradual shift, by the late nineteenth century, from the reliance on gods and charms for succor from disease, to the adoption of Western, scientific principles as the basis for medical knowledge. They show the introduction of imported drugs and vaccines and increased use of printed advertisements to promote new medicinal products.
You can view the entire collection on the UCSF website--arranged by the themes Contagious Disease, Drug Advertisements, Foreigners & Disease, Religion & Health and Women’s Health--by clicking here.

I HIGHLY recommend clicking on each image to view larger, richer, and more detailed image.

Image captions top to bottom:
  1. Shinto god from Izumo province for preventing measles -- Taiso Yoshitoshi, 1862
  2. Pregnancy guide -- Hamano Teisuke, 1880
  3. Illustrated guide to parental obligations -- Utagawa Yoshitora, 1880
  4. Pregnant women playing in summer heat (5 heads, 10 bodies) -- Utagawa Kunitoshi, 1881
  5. Chasing measles away -- Utagawa Yoshimori, 1862
From Pink Tentacle via Ellettrogenica.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This Tuesday at Observatory: “Behind the Scenes and Under the Skin” or, “The Body at Blythe," with Lisa O’Sullivan, Medicine Curator of Science Museum

Next Tuesday at Observatory please join Morbid Anatomy for “Behind the Scenes and Under the Skin” or, “The Body at Blythe” an illustrated lecture by Lisa O'Sullivan, Senior Curator of Medicine at the Science Museum of London. As many of you no doubt know, the Science Museum houses the incredible collection of 100,000 or so of the artifacs amassed by Henry Wellcome, tiny glimpses of which you see above; the collection will be discussed and pictured at much greater length in Tuesday's lecture.

Hope very much to see you there.
“Behind the Scenes and Under the Skin” or, “The Body at Blythe”
An illustrated talk by Lisa O’Sullivan, Senior Curator of Medicine at the Science Museum, London
Date: Tuesday, September 7th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Join Lisa O’Sullivan, Senior Curator of Medicine at the Science Museum, London for a behind-the-scenes look at the Museum stores. As is the case for many large museums, only about 5% of the Science Museum’s objects are ever on display. This is an opportunity to see some of the other 95% - as photographed by Morbid Anatomy’s Joanna Ebenstein on a recent visit.

The Museum’s ‘small objects’, all 203,000 of them, are stored at Blythe house, an early 20th century office building (larger objects live in aircraft hangars in the West of England). Over 100,000 of these artefacts are medical, the majority from the Wellcome collection. Over 30 rooms hold objects from Roman votives to mediaeval saints, x-ray machines to. The collection displays the breadth of Henry Wellcome’s collecting, and vision of medicine.

Lisa will conduct a virtual tour of some of the rooms, highlight some of her – anatomical – favourites amongst the objects, and take questions about life ‘backstage’ at the Museum.

Lisa O’Sullivan is the Senior Curator of Medicine at the Science Museum in London, where she curates the Wellcome collections. She is responsible for the anatomical collections, and all issues relating to human remains in the museum. Lisa’s doctorate looked at the construction of nostalgia as a clinical category in nineteenth-century France. In addition she has degrees in medical anthropology, history and literature. In 2010, she is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney.
You can find out more about this presentation by clicking here. To find out more, see this recent post, from which the above images were drawn.You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library (more on that here)--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Seeking Private, Curious, Arcane and Overlooked Scandinavian Museums, Collections, Sights and Curiosities

Greetings folks.

I am in the midst of planning a trip to Scandinavia around the upcoming Congress for the European Association of Museums for the History of Medical Sciences on the theme of ‘Contemporary medical science and technology as a challenge to museums' to be held at Medical Museion in Copenhangen, September 16-18.

More on that conference--at which I will be delivering a paper--soon (though the impatient among you can see the full line up here); for now, I mention it only as an excuse for soliciting suggestions from Morbid Anatomy readers regarding private, curious, arcane, and overlooked museums, collections, sights and curiosities that one shouldn't miss in this part of the world, of which I know frightfully little.

Any suggestions very much appreciated! Suggesters can leave comments on this post or email me at

Thanks so much!

Image: The Biologiska Museet, Stockholm--which is very much on my list!--from Picasa user Traci Brandon.

The Edward Gorey House Museum, Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts

My boyfriend and I finally made a much-anticiated pilgrimage to the wonderful Edward Gorey Museum in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts a few weeks ago. We were far from disappointed by what we found!

The museum (see photos above) is located in the home of the recently deceased author/illustrator/eccentric Edward Gorey. The home has, sadly, largely been cleared of Gorey's legendary clutter--though a few tantalizing fragments from his private collection can be found scattered about--and transformed into a compact house-museum dedicated to the man's life and work.

Part of me wishes they had simply left the place as it was at Gorey's death, and allowed visitors the opportunity to wander around the famously idiosyncratic environment in which the man produced so many of his iconic works. However, I was quickly won over by the museum's small-town- quirky charm, and the pretty great displays, which included original drawings and half-finished inked works, reproductions of his sketchbooks, amazing ephemera and souvenirs from Mystery and his Broadway production of Dracula, one of his raccoon fur coats, many of his Doubleday book covers, a number of his handmade stuffed animals, many coveted rare works such as his fantastic peepshow, and scores of other artifacts. The gift-shop was also seriously incredible--with scores of Gorey-themed souvenirs I had never seen before--and the folks running the museum were lovely to talk to, knowledgeable and passionately devoted to the man and his work.

In all, the museum really managed to capture the atmosphere and spirit of Edward Gorey's peculiar and alluring universe, with all its whimsy, quirkiness, and elegance; one gets the feeling that Edward Gorey himself might almost have approved, if he had been capable of approving of any museum devoted to his own life and work.

If you are a fan of Mr. Gorey, I cannot more highly recommend making a pilgrimage of your own to the Edward Gorey House Museum. You can find out more about it--including hours and directions--by clicking here; you can visit their awesome gift shop by clicking here. If you would like to make a virtual visit, you can view the full set of photos documenting my own trip--from which the sample above is drawn--by clicking here.