Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Monkey Gone To Heaven



I know Hallowe'en was on Monday, but I was in the Horniman Museum in south-east London yesterday, looking for more "museology" photographs, and couldn't help noticing how, in the right (or wrong) frame of mind, a clear-eyed presentation of anatomy can easily turn into a little house of horrors.



I suppose the presence of parties of primary-school children may have been a factor. The insensitive little souls were gawping and giggling at the cabinets of ghoulish secrets laid bare, untroubled by the anatomist's insistent revelation of the skull beneath the skin. I suppose that, even though you can feel your own skellington hiding in there, it takes a few more years before you truly realise: that's you, that is, always waiting, always trying to get out of your very own squidgy cupboard.

Monkey contemplates an alternative destination

5 comments:

Thomas Rink said...

Now these pictures are haunting, especially the first and the fourth! They go well together with the "Weasels in the jar". Haven't seen pictures like these before, I think this has lots of potential for an interesting and original project (provided that there is a sufficient number of natural history museums around your neck of the woods).

Erik Satie's "Embryons Desséchés" come to mind ...

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...

Thomas,

I seem always to have had an unsettling affinity with the uncanny and the grotesque... Might as well make the best of it!

Funnily enough I was listening to a fine performance of one of the "Gnossiennes" on the car radio yesterday, but I don't know that piece. Arvo Pärt's "Fratres" might be appropriate, too...

Mike

Gavin said...

My cousin used to live near the Hornimann and we often visited the museum with our daughters. The kids loved the stuffed animals - I think it was the chance to examine the animals in close detail without them running off. The part of the museum they found the most disturbing was the masks and ritual costumes upstairs.

Mike C. said...

Gavin,

Sadly, the anthropological collection is currently in storage, pending a complete redisplay (scheduled for 2018!). Shame -- I was looking forward to a few shrunken heads...

Mike

Gavin said...

That's a shame - the low lighting (I guess to preserve the colours) made the displays very atmospheric.