the mysteries of life." *
23. The MJT
The MJT seems a modern day wunderkammer, or “cabinet of wonder” in the city of Los Angles. An eccentric man with an accordion and great interest in early-modern natural history collections founded the Museum in 1989.
Upon taking a course concerning "the age of curiosity" in early-modern Europe, reading Lawrence Weschler’s book, Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, and watching the Leonard Feinstein film "Inhaling the Spore 'A journey through The Museum of Jurassic Technology'," I decided to travel to the MJT as a focal point.
The MJT lies on Venice blvd. between the beach and the downtown. A fold up street sign explains that this peculiar little facade might open up to a museum. I parked across the way a little sickly and wired on coffee. I went inside.
The heavy windowless door opened into a windowless gift shop which lead to a winding windowless expanse of rooms.
To explain is difficult. The Weschler book, the inhaling the spore film, the website, the museum publications, even the museum itself doesn’t really explain the goings on. And prior to my visits, reading material on the museum only more aroused my curiosity and desire to visit. I might call it intellectual inspiring beautiful and exhausting entertainment. Which sounds a reasonable definition for decent art.
The museum is dark, very dark. Subtle lights are cast onto the objects, onto the walls, onto tiny mirrors. All the text is backlit-white on a shiny-black background that fuzzes your perception as you blink making you conscious of your each eye click. Audio devices are activated with push buttons or the picking up of telephones. Small seats and benches are arranged in front little video projection screens. Nearly each room has a unique welcoming flower bouquet. Each video and each didactic is a bit too long, overly wordy, confusing. I watched and read them all and left feeling a little washed out and confused but interested nevertheless. I was interested in the existence of this place, the feel, the straight face-ed-ness of the employees.
The first encounter beyond the gift shop, is colorful flower arrangement sitting impeccably atop a gray pedestal. The MJT logo sign glows behind the flowers through a gray enameled surface.
I first watched a short film about the museum. I walked toward barking sounds to find a decapitated coyote head mounted on the inside wall of a ten-gallon aquarium. An elaborate device allowed me to look right into the eye of the animal where a tiny mustached man sat in a school chair barking hysterically. The floor of the aquarium was of dusty dirt, a bone, pine cone twigs and a potato bug perpetually crawling out off the lip of a walnut shell.
I have quite a bit more to add about the MJT, I visited 3 times in 4 days, so let this be an introduction to my first visit. This post will be soon updated.
*this quote borrowed from the MJT website, www.mjt.org