A human skeleton, a woolly mammoth tusk, an Ice Age wolf skull and a walrus’ penis bone carved from 13 human skulls might give any visitors to museums in London cause for a few raised eyebrows this weekend. But in Soho, the new Museum of Curiosity has them all.
Created by gallerist Mike Snelle as a selling exhibition for his array of skeletons and mummified animals, the vault – described as being full of "weird s***" by its owner – is inspired by the Wunderkammen collections assembled by wealthy, well-travelled patrons of Renaissance Europe, who would try to represent a microcosm of the world through natural history exhibits.
Its roots hark back to Sir Hans Sloane, whose famous batch of curiosities became the founding collection of the British Museum and the Natural History Museum after his death in 1953.
And there are also specially commissioned artworks from the likes of Swoon, an American artist consumed by transcribing the dreams of slumberers from across the world, and Butch Anthony, whose 80-acre Alabama home is replete with so many oddities that it’s become a folk art destination in its own right.
Anthony quotes Norman Bates, the murderous central character of Psycho, in naming his hobby as “stuffing things – you know, taxidermy”.
Snelle is equally enigmatic in his mission statement: “to fuel curiosity in those who have it, and to reignite it in those unfortunate enough to have forgotten they ever did.”
From giant ostriches to forgotten medical instruments, this is one to grab the attention.
- Museum of Curiosity, Pertwee, Anderson and Gold Gallery, Bateman Street. Open Monday-Friday 11am-6pm (12pm-5pm Saturday). Admission free. Follow the museum on Twitter @CuriosityMuseum.