Laughing Kookaburras and Preserved Fetuses

Thank god the Museum of Animal Perspectives exists to post videos of what it looks like to walk through the woods from the top of a wolf’s head. But actually, this one is pretty good: Laughing Kookaburras

Kookaburras on YouTubeIt was left out of the weirdest museums of the world, but I guess they did alright with the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum of Florida: “The Museum: You may know him only as the star of Smokey and the Bandit, but residents of Jupiter, Florida, also know him as a generous contributor, establishing a number of theater-centric programs since purchasing a ranch here some 30 years ago. Volunteers run this not-for-profit museum, dedicated to preserving the legacy of “the Bandit.”
The Exhibits: Sure, there are keys to the 10 plus cities he’s received, notes from A-listers like Jack Lemmon and Elizabeth Taylor, and an impressive collection of sports memorabilia, but the pièce de résistance is the sleek black Firebird Trans Am the beer-smuggling Reynolds, a.k.a. Bo “Bandit” Darville, drove in the classic 1977 film, Smokey and the Bandit.”

Fetus models at Palazzo PoggiThe Poggi Palace in Bologna, Italy, stands out to me as one of the weirdest museum experiences in my life. I tragically lost my own photos of the place in a hard drive crash, but the memory of a recreated 18th century gynecologist office, with all of its tools, surrounded by models of the fetus through development, is vivid enough to sustain that loss.

The Palazzo Poggi was given to the Universita di Bologna in 1805 and became a sort of experimental laboratory of human development.  Research and experiments using technology reinvented the organization of the University’s curriculum.  These activities have been absorbed into the palace’s 15th century architecture, and as their website says, not just metaphorically, the building’s cultural activities in the 19th and 20th centuries created an irreversible ambiance.  It’s true, the eerie quality of the building contributes to the absurdity of its collection.

dancing skeletonsUnfortunately, I missed this exhibit of dancing fetuses, perhaps it is a new addition since Spring 2007.

baby sometimes hiro ballroom just ain’t enough

Remember when you were a teenager and you were on that boring field trip and you thought, ‘man, this sucks, but it would fucken’ rock to party here!’

Welcome to Museum Culture as nightlife commodity. High on the coattails of the Brooklyn Museum’s (awesome and free) First Saturdays jam and the Guggenheim’s far less diverse/far more expensive First Fridays, the Museum of Natural History is gettting in on the action with their own $20 party, One Step Beyond.

The Museum’s Planetarium is kind of the granddaddy of Museum cum Nightclub culture, even as its stoner-heaven laser lightshows have changed soundtracks from Led Zep to Moby over the years. But now it’s full on party time: this month features Superpitcher and 90s techno wunderkind Josh Wink, whose 808-programmed acid house defined a decade (for candy-flipping raver kids and aficionados of the movie Go).

Both the Guggenheim and AMNH events are promoted by Flavorpill, the Todd P of the McSweeney’s set.

Will you meet that special someone under the blue whale and then get bored of the sex in a month? We live and hope.

First Saturdays via Kris! on flickr. 

you got review’d: die roboter kommen!

Suggested Donation’s less-employed half spent the month of August in Berlin, where every German earnestly implored, “oh but you must visit the Jewish Museum.” Somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to spend an afternoon looking at family pictures of ghosts of holocausts past.

Instead, my precious Cultural Hours were spent at the Museum of Communication (Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation), a public museum bearing artifacts and interactive displays of the modern history of communications technology. The Museum is run by Deutsch Post, that is, the Post Office–and it’s housed in an anachronistically Wilhelmine building just a few blocks west of Checkpoint Charlie. Visitors entering the Museum’s palatial lobby are greeted by three whirring Jetsons-esque robots. They beep and click and wheel around, following a large exercise ball–and delighted children–around the marble floor. These robots are permanent fixtures in the space, but the real goods were upstairs–in a temporary exhibition called ‘Die Roboter Kommen!’ (The Robots are Coming!)

The exhibition gives way to a series of eerily lit rooms with a fascinating–I dare say awesome–collection of larger than life robots, supplemented with robot videos, graphic art, and other cultural kitsch. There are robots both real and imagined–medical surgery bots and giants robotic spiders (seemingly military) lead to the Metropolis deity and the cylon from Bjork’s All is Full of Love video. I can’t speak much to the label copy (although the font could have been a little bigger), but most impressive (other than the artifacts themselves) was the dynamic transformation of the space by a cool blue black-light which swathed the entire exhibit in a futuristic glow. [slideshow]

robot crotch shots: VHS or BETA?

edutainment round up: convergence, emergence, divergence, detergent.

button_edutainment.jpgAre museums little more than edutainers? Here are some interesting internet link things about museums and entercation.

Stephen Asma doesn’t live near an inner city bus stop, but he does write about edutainment and museums, in his cuddly-titled book,Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums.” Asma relates the story of a T. Rex named Sue, a glam-rock covers of Johnny Cash dinosaur exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum.

Asma also examines the phenomenon of “edutainment” including the ways in which museums use spectacle and fantasy in order to illuminate and educate, how much of current museum offerings are driven by a quest for large visitation numbers and the question of the relationship between big business, politics and what we learn at any moment in history.

Less than fifteen percent of the Field Museum’s funding comes from admissions. In order to raise the $8 million to acquire T. rex Sue, the Field partnered with Disney World and McDonald’s. “To my mind,” Asma writes, “Sue represents the best and the worst of edutainment.”

We take pause to wonder how this is in any way the best of edutainment, but I guess we’ll just have to buy his book!!!~!!

Elsewhere in the edutainmentsphere:

 So grab the sphere of life and aim it /and you’ll be guided by Edutainment.


above: the edutainmentsphere in cube form