The Morbid Anatomy Museum

Yesterday, we spent a fascinating/disturbing afternoon at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn.  I had heard that the museum was the perfect place for a class field trip and I wanted to check it out during its Open House afternoon featuring many guest speakers and tours.  The Museum describes itself as “Exploring the Intersections of Death, Beauty & That Which Falls Between the Cracks” 


Before I journeyed out to Gowanus, I made sure to look up the definition of “morbid” which turns out to mean “characterized by or appealing to abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects, especially death and disease” according to Oxford Dictionaries. I wondered, “will this be fun”?

And yes, well, wow, it was different.  When you enter the museum there is a gift shop and a coffee bar, although the display of taxidermied animals and many books about death might put off any thoughts of food or drink whilst visiting.  I did love the sculpture of taxidermied chipmunks on a ferris wheel though.


Image from Atlas Obscura. Click for source

Upstairs there was a wonderful exhibit entitled “The Art of Mourning” that will be on view until January 5, 2015.  It features (mostly) Victorian era objects of mourning including early photographs of the recently deceased, a spirit photograph, a beautiful death mask of the Unknown Woman of the Seine


L’inconnue de la Seine. Image from Wikipedia, click for source.

and much hair art.  A guide noted that hair doesn’t decay, so it is a great medium with which to preserve a tangible piece of a loved one.  Craftsmen made artwork and jewelry out of hair and even melted hair into a kind of ink to create mementos.

There was a second room, a library full of preserved creatures in bottles and loads of other spooky stuff.  It gave me the willies. but some may savor it.

So yes, this is a potential field trip but we will have to find the room in our crammed-full curriculum   In the meantime, subscribe to the museum’s mailing list and go when you can, because it is pretty cool and super spooky!


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