Yes, all museums make you think, but have you ever been to a museum that has exhibits that may or may not be based on real science and facts? Want to see bogus science lined right up against the real thing and test your gullibility? Several of the IIG group and friends journeyed to The Museum of Jurassic Technology here in Los Angeles this past weekend and enjoyed comparing notes on just what was real, what might have been real and what was fake – or what we conjectured must be fake.
The MJT is a must for skeptics. Their motto is:
“…guided along as it were
a chain of flowers into
the mysteries of life.”
This is a venue that forces you to think – and think hard. Was there any technology in the Lower Jurassic period of history? Sandwiched between wonders from collections as diverse as Ricky Jay’s decaying dice to mice on toast as a cure for bed-wetting, the curators have put together an eccentric museum that elegantly recreates19th century exhibits that were known as a “Cabinet of Curiosity” in earlier times. Searching out the strange thinking of our ancestors, the curious visitor to MJT can wander through a beautiful section on superstitions where the wackiest beliefs are made into real life tableaus built in individual see-through boxes. This isn’t just another tourist attraction like “Ripley’s Believe it Or Not,” it’s a classy little palace built to honor inquiring minds and human gullibility. Check out the whole deal at www.mjt.org When in L.A., I suggest setting aside two or three hours to explore this “educational institution.”
Another room is dedicated to letters that were sent to Mt. Wilson in its infancy entitled, “No One May Ever have the Same Knowledge Again: Letters to Mt. Wilson.” These letters concern different opinions on imagined origins of the universe and the who, where and why it all came about. We all agreed that many of the rants and claims were not unlike the letters received from various claimants for the CFI/IIG $50,000 Challenge. Each was written with earnest enthusiasm, but were also reminiscent of H.G. Wells science fiction. Then as now; people didn’t know any better.
Among the relics and ephemera displayed is a collection of oil paintings “Dogs of the Soviet Space Program.” It’s hard to imagine where else you could see all of these heroic pooches arranged in a room dedicated to their memory. There is science here – and borderline fantasy too. The fun part is that at MJT gettingchallenged to figure what is science, what is odd eccentricity and what may be entirely made up.
Special sections on such ruminations as Cat’s Cradle, “Eye of the Needle: The Unique World of Microminiatures of Hagop Sandaldjians,” or sculptures carved in the eye’s of needles’ and a displayof miniature paintings created with butterfly wings compete with horns taken (supposedly) from human heads and a scale model of Noah’s ark. In a room entitled “Athannasius Kirchener’s The World is Bound by Secret Knots” one can view fine miniature examples of “Pepper’s Ghost,” and down the hall stunning 3-DFloral Radiographs vie with other early 3-d photography. Several of the people in our group who had not been to MJT before gathered in the tea room and tried to take it all in. Without an Iphone or laptop on hand to investigate each wonder, it’s hard to tell what is genuine. For a skeptic, it’s a heady mix.
We ended an adventurous day at the Rogue Taxidermy Show. See example. This is not exactly cryptozoology or for the faint of heart, but it sure beats tha Natural History Museum for colorful examples of what today’s new breed of taxidermists are up to. Google “Rogue Taxidermy”if you dare. Yes, I know this has nothing to do with skepticism, please don’t bother to comment on that fact. I just dig weird stuff. Deal with it.
Hugs and Kisses to Susan Gerbic-Forsyth for all the great photos!