Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Museum Of Jurassic Technology

So I made it back L.A., and it was time for Lucy to take me to another wacky place.
She really outdid herself this time.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology may in fact be the weirdest place I've ever been to. Ever. And that includes Manhattan. First off, it's free, because California has a legal deal to where all museums are funded by the government. Having worked in a museum, I think that's neat to see a place where art is not scraping by. Once you get in the door, it's a dark and claustrophobic maze. The whole place is the size of a shotgun house on the outside, but on the inside... I think I walked several thousand miles. And there are exhibits, but I'd be hard pressed to find a group that they all belong to.

This one's from an intial section that was nothing but stage dioramas. There's an eagle attacking no actors in this one. Also, for reasons that shall pay off later, it's here that you become aware of a strange barking sound from further along in the museum.

Next up was the cat's cradle room. Here they had (as pictured) several pairs of eerily lit wax hands displaying complicated string patterns. There were holograms of what I think were Inuit folk demonstrating more stringwork (because I think that's where that game comes from), and recordings of Native American-sounding language filtering in though hidden speakers.

More holograms in the next room. This video is in two parts; the first shows a cloud made of cotton that, when you look through these strange binoculars made of glass cubes, is home to a few gods that I think were East Indian. There were several of these exhibits, each one more random than the next. The next part is from a circular rack of bells that's mounted on the ceiling right behind the cloud gods. The chime sound you hear in both parts is the bells. They were Russian, I think, and quite wonderful to listen to.

Next, quite randomly, was a tea room. Lucy (shown here, smaller than actual size) and I had tea and played with the resident pair of greyhounds. Also, there was a door that opened onto the second floor roof, which was odd because I didn't remember going up any stairs.
The barking was louder here, and it wasn't the greyhounds.

This is the pope standing in the eye of a needle. This room included several needles with incredibly detailed figures carved and mounted in them. Goofy was my favorite, but that picture ended up blurry, so you're stuck with the vicar of Christ on Earth.

This next exhibit is my favorite, and so bizarre that I'm getting nervous about the prospect of even trying to describe it. Here, as you can see, is a stuffed fox's head mounted in a plastic case. He's not barking, but the barking is coming from here.

More glass binocular cubes are outside the case, and when you look through them...

... you see a tiny hologram of a paunchy man seated inside the fox's imagination.

This man is calmly seated and happily barking. This decapitated fox is constantly imagining a tiny barking man. I have no idea what any of this means. But I stared at it for about ten minutes, until Lucy dragged me away.

You know those funny Magic Eye pictures that you can never see? Well, the precursor to those things were called stereoscopic photographs. They were originally developed in WWII to assist bombers by adding a third dimension to a 2-D map. You had to use two polarized lenses to see the effect, and that's what those big things on my head are. This hall was full of pictures of different flowers that became 3-D when you had your aristocracy glasses on.

Yes this is mice on toast. One of my favorite rooms was the Vulgar Cures room. Here were old wives' tales made Rx flesh. In the old days, toast mice were a cure for sickness. Caution had to be taken to ensure the patient ate the whole thing, you know... lest they stay sick. Other cures were similarly hilarious/creepy. "Remove all clothing pins when attending a funeral, or the spirit of the dead person will be trapped in the pin and haunt you." "Place the bill of a duck or goose in the mouth of children suffering throat maladies. The cold breath of the duck will be inhaled and the complaint will disappear." One cure I don't remember the sickness for was to have the oldest female in the house sprinkle urine from a toothbrush onto family members to wake them up in the morning. Man am I glad I live in a new century.


Blogger Sue said...

This is so bizarre that I had to Google it. Interested readers may wish to visit the Museum's website at Apparently, it is also described in /Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder/, a book that's on my "Read someday" list. Thank you, Phil, for the blog entry!

2:37 PM  
Anonymous sandtalker said...

I was in San Fran, and had to pay to get into the Museum of Art there!!! Stupid San Fransisco!!!

7:15 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Sue: This was one of those where I giggled the whole time inside the museum thinking about the fun I was going to have describing the place.
Sand: S.F. is very foggy... you think maybe some fog got in between it and the governor? Always have your personal fan on you. Did you learn nothing in the army?

11:49 PM  
Anonymous sandtalker said...

I DID learn that I couldn't talk about being in San Fran...

8:01 PM  
Blogger AkuTyger said...

I want to visit this place. It looks fantastic!

4:44 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

You and that damn Man/Dog head exhibit!

I was sure you'd have a movie clip of the barking.

You can hear the barking from anywhere in the building. It haunts my dreams.

4:29 AM  

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