World's Freakiest Museum: The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Interesting Engineering

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In Los Angeles, tucked away in a small unassuming building, is the freakiest museum in the world. I’ve visited a lot of museums, lived in and visited many foreign countries and no other museum comes even close to the freak factor contained within The Museum of Jurassic Technology. Even the name is bizarre. When you put the word, “Jurassic” with “Technology”, what does that even mean? So, what makes it the freakiest museum in the world? Well, for starters, only exceptionally motivated people can find the entrance to museum. And it is freaky because it’s designed specifically to disrupt your mind with bewildering exhibits. It is disruptive in the extreme.

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The door to the museum is tiny and non-descript. You have to find a tiny button and push it before someone will let you in. You could probably walk down the street where it is and never notice it. You have to work to find it.

I found it in a highly unusual way. I randomly picked up a book in an antique store in Kansas because of its curious title, Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology. I initially thought the book was fiction and it wasn’t until halfway through that I realized it was a true story about the Museum of Jurassic Technology. I became obsessed and spent the next year saving up money just to visit it.

The opening page of the MJT website says, “...guided along as it were a chain of flowers into the mysteries of life.”

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When you enter the museum, you suddenly get the feeling of being thrust into the dark, mad jaws of someone who is much more intelligent and possibly more sinister than you. You realize the rest of the world has been sugar-coated to ease your uncomfortable and questioning mind. But this place has injected uncertainty and unreality into every hallway, exhibit and object. It’s like being inside an intellectually superior creature who you’re not sure has good intentions.

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Here’s a list of some things you will see at this museum: exhibit of dogs from the Soviet Space Program, a collection of decaying dice, exhibits visible only with 3D glasses, studies of magnetism, secret knots, a tiny mobile home park diorama, dead mice on toast, microminiature sculptures in the eyes of needles, the stink ant of Cameroon, microscopic paintings viewed under microscopes, a fruit stone carving, a hyper symbolic cognition display, Sonnabend’s Theory of Forgetting, floral radiographs and 33 letters written to an astronomical observatory called No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again.

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The exhibits at MJT push the boundaries of a human’s ability to comprehend reality. As I traveled from exhibit after exhibit, I found my mind struggling to grasp the concepts contained within them. I began to wonder if the person who designed the museum was insane…...

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Many of the subjects explored in the museum were completely alien to me. I had never thought that anyone in history was working to prove a Theory of Forgetting and I was equally unaware of anyone creating microscopic paintings with fragments from feathers.

Geoffrey Sonnabend's theories were particularly unsettling to me especially his assertion that memory is an illusion:

“We, amnesiacs all, condemned to live in an eternally fleeting present, have created the most elaborate of human constructions, memory, to buffer ourselves against the intolerable knowledge of the irreversible passage of time and the irretrievability of its moments and events." -Geoffrey Sonnabend from Obliscence

This museum does the opposite of other museums: it presents you with more and more questions that the exhibits refuse to answer. One of the exhibits contains a large microscope. The microscope has been lowered onto a specimen glass, which has caused the glass to break. The broken glass lies all over the table. There is a small bi-fold card which simply states, “Out Of Order”.

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The museum has obliterated the modern practice of compartmentalizing subjects into separate disciplines, like "Art Museum", "Science Museum", etc. The exhibits come from a range of disciplines: natural science, technology, art, literature, astronomy, physics and they all share one common denominator: curiosity. Before the modern age of fragmentation and separation, many museums housed curious things from all kinds of different disciplines. There was no line separating art from science. Everything was worthy of investigation and nothing was too insignificant to question.

If you want to shatter your perspective on reality, go to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, California. Ask to go upstairs where you'll be served cookies and tea by Russian attendants.