Friday, March 2, 2012

A True Museum for LA

JUST A couple of miles east of the Pacific on Venice Boulevard, lies a hidden gem to Los Angeles called The Museum of Jurassic Technology.  This museum, founded by David Hildebrand Wilson in ’87, goes by unnoticed by most, but those who stumble across it quickly find themselves in no ordinary place.  As with the microminiature art sculptures that you must look through a microscope to see, the artifacts housed by the museum all contain unusual qualities.  In this dimly lit, claustrophobic labyrinth, viewers walk backwards in time and discover more about wonder than they do of the artifacts themselves.

David Wilson had no ordinary goals when he founded The Museum of Jurassic Technology.  In fact, he was steeped in wisdom about the evolution of museums, which explains why the museum functions as it does.  Through his studies, Wilson learned that museums were places dedicated to the muses in the ancient world.  As explained on The Museum of Jurassic Technology website, a museum is “a place where man’s mind could attain a mood of aloofness above everyday affairs.”  When society’s creative endeavors fell mute in the Middle Ages, so did the power of the museum.  It wasn’t until around the 16th century when man picked museums back up as a way to preserve human culture.

 Nowadays, most museums are based off the traditions established by 16th century museums, not antique museums like the great Alexandria.  Wilson’s Museum of Jurassic Technology fights that tendency, holding reverence to both the traditions of ancient museums but also in the artifacts they valued.  Visitors to The Museum of Jurassic Technology are supposed to feel most comfortable near the entrance where the contemporary exhibits are located, but will become less comfortable and familiar with the content that lies deeper in the labyrinth.  As described by one of Wilson’s idols, “the learner must be led always from familiar objects toward the unfamiliar - guided along, as it were, a chain of flowers into the mysteries of life”.  Perhaps the most interested facet of the museum is the myth that half of the objects are faked.  The thought is that Wilson intentionally left this ambiguous so that visitors would constantly question which artifacts could be regarded as authentic.  This inspires a certain skepticism in viewers that works perfectly with Wilson’s philosophical interest in the pursuit of wisdom.

-- Carey Uhl

Photo Credit 1: Rikomatic on Flickr
Photos 2 & 3: Ricky Jay

1 comment:

  1. Carey,
    Great post. Thoughtful and connected to not just the place but the "place" that this location ultimately takes you to...
    You would probably be interested in this book: Fascinating.
    -- L.G.