City-bound travellers with a taste for the macabre can add the recently opened Morbid Anatomy Museum to their itineraries. Wax models of diseased body parts, intricately woven
memorials made of human hair and wet specimens of often-squeam-inducing
creatures are just some of what’s on offer at the three-storey cabinet of
curiosities in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighbourhood.
to “exploring the intersections of death and beauty and that which falls
between the cracks”, the museum sprung from the Morbid Anatomy blog, which was
started by Joanna Ebenstein in 2007 as a way to organise a project about medical
museums around the world. As her blog and research collection grew, Ebenstein created
the Morbid Anatomy Library, a 300sqft space open to the public one day a week, and
launched a related lecture and workshop series called Morbid Anatomy Presents in
2009. The new museum venue – a former nightclub – means a little more breathing
room for Morbid Anatomy, with a café, bookstore and space for exhibitions
in addition to its library and permanent collection.
finally find all my books,” Ebenstein said.
are encouraged to peruse the book collection, which ranges in topic from sex, monsters
and medicine to the occult, folklore and natural history. There’s a wide array
of related trinkets, artefacts and art to pore over too, including anatomical
ex-votos, or religious offerings of thanks or devotion; a 19th
century death mask bust with phrenology markings, meant to determine moral
character by the shape of one’s skull; Mexican Day of the Dead figures; and emu
feet donated by a man whose wife no longer wanted them in the house.
Through 4 December,
memorial photography, jewellery and handicrafts from the US and Europe dating to
the 18th Century are on display as part of The Art of Mourning, a special showcase sourced from private
than sombre, the museum also hosts a slew of evening and weekend events – a singles night among them. Upcoming August programming
includes a talk on “Eva Peron and the Iconography of the
Flesh” (19 August),
a fancy chicken taxidermy workshop (23 August) and a Michael Jackson karaoke birthday
party (29 August).
The Morbid Anatomy Museum is
open Wednesday to
Monday, 12 pm to 6 pm. Admission is $10.
Amy Brader is the New York City Localite for