As a news reporter, I’m pretty fascinated by the weird and wonderful – and sometimes a little bit grisly. So when I heard about the Morbid Anatomy Museum opening in Gowanus last summer, I thought it sounded right up my street. Unfortunately, it failed to satisfy my curiosity – but I’ve decided not to let that put me off sharing the photos I took. (Forgive me?)
Past its domineering black facade, the museum houses a coffee shop on the ground floor and two rooms upstairs – one for exhibiting and another that’s used as a library. The place was far smaller than I imagined, but perhaps with at $8 a ticket, I shouldn’t have expected much more.
I think another issue was that the museum is between bigger exhibits right now, so they’re currently focusing on ‘the process of collecting’… which sounded to me like a fancy way of saying ‘we threw loads of random stuff in a room and called it an exhibition’.
Anyway. Let’s get on with the charming photos.
First up, there were these lovely taxidermy scenes.
Yes – smoking chipmunks, drunk squirrels and these very precious reactions from me and Meghan (who will never forgive me for taking her as my date):
There were plenty of other dead things tucked away in the library room, which was actually a pretty creative, interesting space.
Annoyingly, there were no descriptions of what things were beside them on the walls. When we walked in, we were given packet of papers describing each item, so we spent most of our time flicking through the pages trying to figure out what on earth we were looking at.
Still, my favorite was this – a neck tattoo in a jar. A guy, who was upset that the tattooist had confused the colors of the stripes, cut it out of his own neck and later gifted it back to a tattoo parlor. Oh and yes, he lived.
After taking in collections of teeth and a particularly horrifying set of lamps made out of chimpanzee arms, we headed downstairs and looked in shock as people drank coffee and ate cake surrounded by body parts and stuffed animals. We decided we didn’t want to hang around.
I love the idea of exhibiting memoriam mori and looking at how other cultures and eras mark death and study the human body. This mix of science and history fascinates me. But this museum failed to reach its potential because it didn’t seem to follow a theme. It was so teeny tiny, and there really wasn’t that much on show. I left disappointed.
That said, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt because I know they’re between exhibitions (the next one focuses on magic), so I’d go back before I really write it off.
Most of all, I didn’t leave as terrified as I’d hoped. Ah well, next time!
The Morbid Anatomy Museum is on 3rd Avenue and 7th Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn. You can visit the coffee shop or the museum, and they also have some pretty snazzy looking classes and presentations, from guinea pig taxidermy to one-man theater performances. More info on their calendar and more info about the museum on their website. It costs $8 but there’s also a Groupon ($11 for two tickets) here.