Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Obscura Day at the Museum

March 20, 2010 was Obscura Day, a set of 80 events around the world celebrating "wondrous, curious, and esoteric places". The day was sponsored by Atlas Obscura, an online compendium of such locations. The front men for the atlas are Joshua Foer (of the late lamented Athanasius Kircher Society) and Dylan Thuras (of the current and celebrated Curious Expeditions blog). A few of the museum's collections were presented in the Kircher Society's proceedings some years ago and the museum itself is currently listed in the Atlas Obscura.

The event was not publicized because it filled up early in February, much to the amazement of the museum's marketing department, which has struggled in vain for years to get people out to the wilds of San Mateo. Any potential patrons who missed out are reminded that the museum will be open again May 8th and 9th as part of Silicon Valley Open Studios.

There had been some concern on the part of museum management that visitors would be dropping by simply to gawk at something "eccentric" or perhaps just to be part of a trendy event . These fears proved unfounded as visitors showed genuine interest, as evidenced by the quality of the photographs taken. Samplings of these pictures have been gathered into galleries on the museum's Flickr page:

Zymoglyphic Museum Closeups
Photographers became absorbed in the details of the exhibits. Small components of the exhibits come alive in an amazing variety of ways in these pictures.

Zymoglyphic Dioramas
Kathryn Gritt came early, had the museum to herself for a good long while, and documented everything. She was especially successful at capturing the dioramas, which are a challenge to photograph well. Best of all, she produced two excellent little videos which capture the three dimensional qualities of the dioramas.

Hardly any visitors took pictures of themselves or others in the museum, so museum management has contributed a few documentary shots of the day that can be seen here

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