Welcome to the Museum of Unnatural History, a place devoted to the collection and reflection of humanity's somewhat clumsy advancements. Once a real museum, until it's destruction, it now only lives on in this virtual space.
You can follow the tour in order or jump to the section of most interest. We encourage you to visit the gift store on your way out, as it is only through your support that the museum will be able to be rebuilt.
On my ﬁrst real holiday since the opening of the Museum, I received the news of its ﬁery destruction via a local paper; a short column on the ﬁfth page with a small picture and one hundred words covering my work for the last ﬁfteen years.
My estranged brother founded the museum committee shortly before he passed away, leaving me as head of the Bumbly estate, and the Museum of Unnatural History landed in my lap, on a platter.
Not surprisingly an appropriate site with council permissions could only be found in Berlin. So my beloved and I relocated and began collecting the exhibits. The museum was to house the aberrations created alongside the development of the sciences and the arts, intended in no way to criticise our clumsy advancement but simply to note some of the interesting and incredible tangents.
As many of our pieces were still living, we were forced to exist, in part, as a commune. Attracting all kinds of scientiﬁc bungles – transient fellows out of place from society, contemporary deformities – we were, for a time, a family of all sorts.
The museum was subdivided into six sections and I follow them here: Breeding, Genetics, Evolution Control, Art Pieces, Mechalogical and Items of Ambiguous Classiﬁcation (which included the botanical exhibits). Unfortunately the ﬁ re left little to salvage, perhaps just a few of the hardier gift shop items.
Since the virtual tour and all the digital artifacts are still accessible on the weave, the destruction of the physical museum will go largely unnoticed. I have chosen to illustrate the exhibits with sketches I had done over the course of the museum’s life, as this is intended as a personal account rather than a textbook. Seen another way, I write this solely for myself. Like many elder normals, the need to ‘stocktake’ one’s life events and sum them up into a minor footnote to history is a conceit designed to assuage the fear of indeﬁnite existence, as well as acting as a gestalt for what will always feel like unﬁnished business.
My manner of speaking may be considered coarse for the average logocentric. I have my suspicions anyway about the fallibility of human truth, and more so the fallibility of our language, which may show up throughout the text. I may not use words and terminology as usually understood and I apologize for any discomfort this may afford my readers. On the other hand, I can’t help but see all language as a constantly shifting beast, Protean perhaps, that differs from user to user and over time – we can but try to understand one another.
THERE are far more grievous offences to the quality and quantity of life on this planet than experimentation. Though such endeavours can occasionally lead to beings that wouldn’t otherwise exist, we should view these as blessings rather than abominations. There is, in any event, a long history of natural variation without human interference.
After a long life of witnessing the ﬁnest of cultural sophistry, I have an extensive collection of terminology which would best be disposed of. I no longer understand ‘human ideals’, or ‘ideal humans’, nor in fact much of human rhetoric. I can imagine no such thing as an ideal form, though I can readily point out some possible improvements in behavior.
Plate 4 shows the skeleton of siamese twins delivered by Dr. Joseph Warrington in the 19th century. Conjoined by a single skull of watermelon likeness and created with no scientiﬁc intervention, they and others like them are solely the products of nature, God, or random chance (whichever the reader prefers).
Plate 5: The Feejee Mermaid on the other hand, is a subject of disputed origin – as are all things we don’t fully understand. Real, fake, unreal, imitation? History concludes that it was a fraud concocted between P.T. Barnum and one Levi Lyman in 1842 but people of the time could not be sure for, as we all know, if there is a God, he/she/it has done some wonderful freak-work.
Alas, all natural deformities can now be avoided long before birth with pre-screening, and the off-world birthing tanks have eliminated such chaotic inﬂuences as nature to create only perfect specimens of humanity*. As such, it was only through the miracles of error and misguided invention that we could gather enough exhibits for our little live-in museum.
* A contradiction in terms?