For over six years, Morbid Anatomy has been showcasing, preserving, and championing forgotten and liminal artifacts, art, and ideas, providing a home for those things which would otherwise fall through the cracks of collection, informed discussion and exhibition. Now, Morbid Anatomy is moving into a 3-floor, 4,200 square foot building in the Gowanus and completely renovating it. But to do it--and to make it the most fantastic space possible--we need your help!
To entice you, we have a wonderful array of awards including exclusive, limited edition prints by favorite artists Mark Ryden and Mark Dion; "experiential awards" with stars of TV's Oddities including a trip to Brimfield with Evan Michelson, shooting with Mike Zohn and a private tour of Ryan Matthew Cohn's astounding home museum; a collectable set piece from Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas; tickets to Morbid Anatomy's popular Day of the Dead bus trip; manuscript critiques by New York Times bestselling author Tonya Hurley and Cranioklepty author Colin Dickey; exclusive, limited edition photographs of Walter Potters's Victorian kitten tea parties; signed copies of rare Stanley Burns' books on postmortem photography; a private party in the museum; special Morbid Anatomy merch; and much more!
Morbid Anatomy began as a website by artist and independent scholar Joanna Ebenstein in 2007. It soon expanded to include the open-to-the-public Morbid Anatomy Library, and Morbid Anatomy Presents, which has produced hundreds of lectures and workshops covering such topics as books bound in human skin, postmortem photography, forgotten mail-order smut, pre-cinematic fright shows, 18th century Italian anatomical waxes, moulage making, Victorian hair art jewelry, and anthropomorphic mouse taxidermy. These are often sold out, standing room only affairs, and have cultivated a passionate community of like minded people over the years.
In 2013, CEO and Board Chair Tracy Hurley Martin approached Joanna Ebenstein with the ambitious suggestion that Morbid Anatomy be brought to the next level; Now, under her direction and vision, and with her tireless support, we are taking our biggest step yet: opening a three-story museum in the heart of Brooklyn!
The new Morbid Anatomy Museum will feature permanent and temporary exhibitions, a café/bar, a gift shop, an expanded library and more ambitious programming. It will be a beautiful and inspiring space to foster our unique international community of supporters, friends, artists, rogue scholars and like-minded enthusiasts; a place which enshrines that which we hold dear, a place to study, to delight; a place to “meet the others.”
But we can’t do it without you.
We have been working with awesome architects Robert Kirkbride (specialist in Cabinets of Curiosity) and Anthony Cohn to design the new Morbid Anatomy Museum, which will feel like a beautifully ornate 19th century Wunderkammer, albeit with modern, industrial accents. With three full floors and a roof garden, the Museum—housed in a former nightclub!--will house over 4,200 square feet of oddities and rational amusements. It will be unlike any museum in the world, and will add a much needed touch of the fun and the odd to New York City’s overly (we believe) serious cultural landscape.
The new museum will include:
-An enlarged, beautiful library to house our rapidly expanding collection of over 2,500 books
-An exhibition space to showcase our ever-growing permanent collection
-A space for temporary exhibitions, many of which will contain works and curiosa from private collections that have rarely—if ever—been exhibited in public before
-A new lecture and event space capable of holding twice our current number of people, and featuring all-new talks by favorite speakers such as Mel Gordon (Voluptuous Panic, Grand Guignol), Stanley Burns (The Burns Archive), Paul Koudounaris (Empire of Death), Amy Herzog, Caitlin Doughty (Ask a Mortician), and Evan Michelson and Mike Zohn of TV’s Oddities.
-Expanded public programing including visiting international scholars—such as Richard Barnett (Wellcome Collection) and John Troyer (Centre for Death & Society at the University of Bath)--more field trips and classes, and live-casting of lectures
-A café serving espresso and pastries seven days a week, with plans to expand to a full bar
-A gift shop with our own quirky merch, taxidermy, waxworks, curiosia and obscure books from around the world
-More publications by Morbid Anatomy Press
-A film branch, with filmmaker in residence Ronni Thomas of The Midnight Archive
-A rooftop terrace where you can enjoy a cocktail while taking in breathtaking views of industrial Brooklyn and the mighty Gowanus
Our first exhibition, on the 19th century anthropomorphic taxidermy of Walter Potter, is slated to open in early June, and will bring together many pieces from Walter Potter’s Museum (which was broken up and sold at auction in 2003) for the first time in the United States. Featuring taxidermied animals in Victorian dress, playing poker and attending weddings. Walter Potter’s work both delights and unsettles, sometimes simultaneously, and reflects a time gone by and an artistry all but lost.
Future exhibitions in the works include the world’s largest collection of death masks (with Atlas Obscura’s Josh Foer); “the art of death” (a celebration of memorial arts such as memorial portraiture and Victorian hair art); a recreation of the Cabaret du Néant (a death themed cabaret in fin de siècle Paris) with Rogue Scholar in Residence Mel Gordon; and an exhibition devoted to the work of anatomist/artist Frederik Ruysch who displayed his own macabre tableaux fashioned of human fetal skeletons in his early 18th century private cabinet. Other as of yet unnamed exhibitions will take as their subject artists, movements, and moments of history that have been overlooked, forgotten, or excluded from memory and display.
WHY WE’RE DOING THIS KICKSTARTER
We were able to start this journey as a result of the vision of Tracy Hurley Martin and some amazing founding donors, and while we’re almost there, we need YOUR help to get across the finish line and ensure that this museum is as beautiful and unique as we envision it. The money raised on Kickstarter will go towards covering capital expenses, mounting our first exhibition, and finishing the build out of the museum.
Your backing of this museum will help ensure that the museum is as beautifully designed and built as it is in our imagination. Additionally, you will help minimize the amount of debt we need to take on, and thus ensure the long-term viability of an important cultural institution.
Scholarly but never boring, serious but never dry, the Morbid Anatomy Museum aims to interest, intrigue, educate and delight.
We want this to be your museum: help us make it a reality.
For more information on the Morbid Anatomy Museum: https://www.facebook.com/morbidanatomy
More from the Wall Street Journal:
(Kickstarter film by Ronni Thomas; narration by Evan Michelson)
SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION REWARDS
We’re are EXTREMELY fortunate to have group of friends, board members and colleagues who have generously donated some one of a kind experiences and items to this Kickstarter:A Weekend at Brimfield Antique Fair with Oddities' Evan Michelson
2 nights in a hotel and dinner on us with Evan Michelson, star of Science Channel’s hit show Oddities, at the July 14 - 19 edition of Brimfield, the legendary antiques market. Hotel room for two will also be provided. Also includes a a one-year membership for one to the Museum and an exclusive thank you postcard!
Trip to the Shooting Range with Oddities' Mike Zohn!
Spend an afternoon with Mike Zohn, star of Science Channel’s hit show Oddities, at a shooting range with a selection of his antique, rare, and mind-blowing guns. Mike will bring several guns from his collection (which may include an AK-47, a 12 gauge shotgun, or a Russian Maxim belt-fed semi-automatic machine gun, among many others), give you around 1,000 rounds to fire off. The range is located in Eaton, PA, about an hour outside of NYC. (Backer must provide her/his own transportation to the range.)
Private Tour of Oddities' Ryan Matthew Cohn's Amazing Private Museum!
A private tour of collector Ryan Matthew Cohn of the Science Channel’s hit show Oddities’s astounding home museum filled with a dizzying array of antiques, taxidermy, anatomical preparations and unique objects. Plus a one-year membership for one to the Museum and an exclusive thank you postcard! (Backer must provide her/his own transportation to New York City.)
Two tickets for Morbid Anatomy's 2014 Day of the Dead Trip to Mexico!
Two tickets for our special October/November trip to Mexico for Day of the Dead (value $1,350.00) led by our resident Death in Mexico expert Salvador Olguin of Borderline Projects. The tour includes: Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico City and Oaxaca, English-language tours of Unesco World Heritage landmarks, land transportation in luxury bus, hotels, breakfasts, a custom-made printed guide of each city, and admission to select museums. PLEASE NOTE: DOES NOT INCLUDE AIRFARE TO AND FROM MEXICO; more on last year's iteration can be found here.
Limited Edition Rare Work by Mark Ryden!
An limited edition artwork by Mark Ryden, “Tree of Mystery”: a limited edition, giclee print with letterpressed title and embossed chop on archival cotton rag paper. Framed in a beautiful hand-carved wood frame with museum quality archival Plexiglas, numbered and signed by the artist.
Limited Edition Mark Dion Print!
A specially commissioned print by artist (and board member!) Mark Dion. An extremely limited edition of 30, signed and numbered by the artist, unframed. 6 inches by 8 inches.
Collectable Set Piece from Nightmare Before Christmas
These generously donated Halloween Town gates from the Nightmare Before Christmas measure 25 inches high by 24 inches wide and 5 inches in depth. This piece was cast during the production of the film and may have been used as a stand-in or background. It is not the screen-used “Hero” gate, but it is still a very rare piece and is perfectly identical to the original. Made of hard resin, it is displayed on a base and donated by a Nightmare Before Christmas collector who has ties to the original crew of the film.
Manuscript Critique with New York Times best-seller Tonya Hurley!
New York Times and international best-selling author Tonya Hurley, author of the ghostgirl series and the Blessed trilogy, will critique your YA novel. Includes both written feedback and an editorial discussion (either in-person, or via Skype).
Non-Fiction Manuscript Critique with Colin Dickey!
Colin Dickey, author of Cranioklepty and Afterlives of the Saints, and a regular contributor to Lapham’s Quarterly and the Los Angeles Review of Books, will critique your nonfiction manuscript. Includes both in-line edits and an editorial discussion (either in-person, or via Skype).
Rare, Signed books on Postmortem Photography from The Burns Archive!
A set of Stanley B. Burns’ rare Sleeping Beauty II: Grief, Bereavement and the Family in Memorial Photography, American & European Traditions and Sleeping Beauty III: Memorial Photography: The Children, both signed by the author.
LOWER LEVEL REWARDS
See side bar for details; to see images, click here.
Risks and challenges
We’ve spent the past year getting this museum ready, and it has been an enormous undertaking. The challenges to opening a museum from scratch are legion, and we’ve worked tirelessly towards opening a museum that’s truly unique and without peer in New York City. We have recently received a provisional charter from the State of New York to operate as a museum, and are in the process of acquiring nonprofit status from the IRS. We have been building our permanent collection, hiring staff, and developing the infrastructure to run an entire museum.
Your support at this crucial juncture will help determine what the museum will be in the coming years. Your backing will allow us to realize our dream of a museum like no other, and it will help set us on a firm financial footing so we can look forward into the future with confidence, and create a space that’s like no other.
One challenge with this project is that there are many things necessary to the building and running of a museum that are new to us; luckily, we have a stellar team working on making this project a reality:
Core Team Members: Tracy Hurley Martin (Producer); Joanna Ebenstein (founder of Morbid Anatomy); Colin Dickey (author of Cranioklepty, co-editor of The Morbid Anatomy Anthology); Aaron Beebe (artist and former director of the Coney Island Museum); Laetitia Barbier (Head Librarian at the Morbid Anatomy Library); and Erica Saunders (Library Science at Queens College)
Board of Directors: Tracy Hurley Martin; Elizabeth L. Bradley (New York historian and consultant to Historic Hudson Valley); Jennifer Butkevich (entrepreneur/collector); Mark Dion (Fine artist - The Tate, MoMA, The Glasgow Hunterian, Bartram’s Gardens, and many more); Joanna Ebenstein; Evan Michelson (of Obscura Antiques and TV’s “Oddities”); Jacob Nadal (Research Collections and Preservation Consortium); Tonya Hurley ("New York Times" Best Selling Author); Amy J. Slonaker (Lawyer).
Scholars / Artists in Residence: Mel Gordon; Evan Michelson; Salvador Olguin; Ronni Thomas; Divya Anantharaman; Katie Innamorato; Shannon Taggart; Daisy TaintonLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
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