Thursday, November 20, 2014

THIS SUNDAY: Free Morbid Anatomy Museum End-of-Exhibition Open House and Hendrick's Gin Sponsored Party!

If you've not yet been out to see our Art of Mourning exhibition--or if you're looking for an excuse to return!--you won't want to miss our free, Hendrick's Gin-sponsored End of Exhibition Open House taking place this Sunday, November 23. The museum will be free for the entire day, and we'll be hosting a full day of short talks, exclusive screenings, special tours, music, demonstrations, cocktails and more.

Full schedule follows; we hope very much to see you there!

11:15 am: Mark Dion (Artist, Morbid Anatomy Advisory Board) - Opening Speech

11:30 am: Vicki Fama Daniel (University of Wisconsin‑Madison): Illustrated lecture "Death on Display: The Triangle Fire Morgue and Public Spectacle in Early Twentieth-Century New York"
In the immediate aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, city authorities established a temporary morgue at the end of East 26th Street to hold dozens of unidentified victims. The morgue was opened to the public and quickly became a spectacle of grief and death. This lecture will discuss what drove spectators to the morgue and the myriad ways that those working in the morgue attempted to mitigate the spectacle there.
12:00 pm: The Art Of Mourning - Exhibition tour by Evan Michelson (Scholar in Residence, Star of TV's Oddities)

12:15 pm: Michael Carlisle  (Baruch College): Illustrated lecture "The Morbidity of Mathematicians"
Some mathematicians have a tendency to obsess on obscure abstraction, toil in isolation, and die young and/or in very unpleasant ways. This illustrated talk will present a brief history of some of these world-changers and brain-breakers, how they changed human thought, and how, for their troubles, the world drove them to the eternal asymptote.
12:45 pm: RoadKill Anatomy:  A Demonstration presented by naturalist Peter Warny
In this zoological show-and-tell, Peter Warny will conducts necropsy examination of  preserved specimen, discussing their anatomy and physiology.
1:00 pm: Laetitia Barbier (Morbid Anatomy Museum Programming Director, Head Librarian) - Milagritos : Mexican devotional artifacts from the Morbid Anatomy Library Collection
In this show and tell, Head Librarian Laetitia Barbier will discuss vernacular religious practices and private veneration in Mexico through its peculiar material culture. From Santa Muerte to The Holy Blind Child, she will present a variety of religious objects, icons and idols, as well as new acquisitions and many anecdotes from our recent journey in Mexico.
1:45 pm: Shannon Taggart (Programmer in Residence): Illustrated lecture "A Brief History of Ectoplasm"
Why Ectoplasm? – Harry Houdini famously wondered this in his scathing critique of Modern Spiritualism. Since it’s first appearances in Victorian era séance rooms, this mysterious substance has continued to seduce, disgust and intrigue believers and skeptics alike. This presentation will cover a brief history of the paradoxical substance as well as the contemporary mediums who are still in its pursuit.
2:.15 pm: by Karen Bachmann (Master jeweler, Morbid Anatomy Museum Scholar in Residence) : A Demonstration of Victorian Hair Art
In this demonstration, jeweler and scholar Karen Bachmann will present the techniques used to create victorian inspired wreath and jewelry with human hair.
2:45 pm: Mike Zohn (Collector, Star of TV's Oddities) -  "Anthropomorphic Taxidermy Dioramas of the Cress Funeral Home"
Cress Funeral Home, Madison, Wisconsin was famously reported on by Roadside America for its collection of taxidermy tableaus. Before the collection was divided at auction, this funeral home attracted tourists eager to view the whimsical anthropomorphic taxidermy work commissioned by proprietor Sam Sanfillippo. Pieces included a squirrel bar, a squirrel merry go round and a squirrel girly show. Antique dealer Mike Zohn’s show and tell will present few of the pieces he purchased at the Funeral Home.
3.00 pm:  The Art of Mourning - Exhibition tour by Karen Bachmann (Master jeweler, Morbid Anatomy Museum Scholar in Residence)

3:15 pm: Daniel Margocsy (Hunter College): Illustrated lecture "Fake Dragons and the Tattooed Fish of Halle: Rogue Taxidermy Avant la Lettre"
Fake dragons, stuffed basilisks and other imaginary monsters were not only the stuff of fiction in the early modern period. Material remains of them were frequently forged and exhibited in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century museums. This talk discusses a number of renowned specimens from this period, and explores why natural historians took such objects of rogue taxidermy seriously.
3:45 pm: Amy Herzog (Queen's College; Programmer in Residence): Illustrated lecture  TBA

4:15 pm: Jon Ronson (Journalist, documentary filmmaker, author The Men Who Stare at Goats): Screening of "David Icke, The Lizards and the Jews"
David Icke was once a famous British TV sports commentator until he announced one day on the BBC that he was the Son of God. Then he vanished – a laughingstock. When he reemerged in the late 1990s with his theory that the shadowy cabal that secretly rules the world are actually shapeshifting pedophile lizards, Jon Ronson joined him on his lecture tour of Canada. It was an especially fraught lecture tour because powerful anti racists were convinced that when he said ‘lizards’ he was using code for ‘Jews. Flitting between the two camps as the confrontations escalated, Ronson asked: which side should we be on?
5:00 pm: Evan Michelson (Scholar in Residence, star of TV's Oddities): Illustrated lecture "A brief history of Narcotics"
A show-and-tell illustrating mankind's noble (but often misguided) attempt to master the art of pharmaceutical-grade opiates; the results were mixed, and centuries of social upheaval were just one side effect. Science, chemistry, sleazy marketing, good intentions and bad medicine tell the surprising (and ongoing) story of our quest to achieve better living through chemistry.
5:20 pm: Kevin Murphy (Curator at Williams College Museum of Art) Materiality and Melancholy: Mourning as Art and Artifact - The Art of Mourning Exhibition Tour
Hair memorials, post-mortem photography, and objects of mourning occupy a paradoxical place within academic, museum, and popular culture. Scholars and collectors interested in these objects often discuss them as "oddities" while at the same time deploying them to for the didactic and moralizing purpose of criticizing 21st century attitudes to death as opposed to those of the past, potentially risking an unintended cultural conservatism. On this tour, curator Kevin Murphy will visually analyze selected objects, demonstrating how they intersect with the artistic practice and habits of mind of the cultures that created them and suggesting possible interpretive strategies to reconcile uncanny and conventional; subculture with culture.
5.35 pm:  Divya Anantharaman and Katie Innamorato (Morbid Anatomy Museum Taxidermists in Residence) -  Life Taxidermy Demonstration

6.00 pm: Ronni Thomas (Filmmaker in Residence) -  Morbid Anatomy Presents Screening of Assorted Short Films

6.30 pm: Mark Dery (Cultural Critic, author I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts) and Joanna Ebenstein (Morbid Anatomy Museum creative director and blog founder): A Public Dissection
A disquieting yet diverting conversation with Joanna Ebenstein, founder of the Morbid Anatomy Museum. Your host: Mark Dery, cultural critic, author of the essay collection I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts.
7:15 pm: Mark Dion (Artist, Morbid Anatomy Advisory Board): Closing remarks and toast

7:30 pm Reception/afterparty sponsored by Hendrick's Gin featuring the arcane tunes of DJ in residence Friese Undine

Support the Morbid Anatomy Museum with your End of Year Giving!

At this--that time of year when people make the majority of their philanthropic contributions to organizations they believe in--we humbly ask you, our followers and readers, to consider supporting the Morbid Anatomy Museum with your end of year giving. You can do so via our fiscal sponsor Brooklyn Arts Council by clicking here.

Regular readers know what a momentous year this has been for Morbid Anatomy, with the opening of a new Museum in the heart of Gowanus, Brooklyn; the launching of our inaugural exhibition The Art of Mourning; and the publication of The Morbid Anatomy Anthology, crowd-sourced via a surprisingly successful Kickstarter campaign. Needless to say, we could not have done any of this without your dedicated support—of all kinds—and we are incredibly grateful. Thank you.

Since opening its doors this June, The Museum has hosted thousands of enthusiastic visitors from all over the world and been reported on by such varied publications as The New York Times, The New Yorker, BBC, The Daily Beast, The LA Review of Books, Newsweek, Die Zeit, Time, WiredGothamist, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and NPR Morning Edition. We are better serving our beloved community of makers, rogue scholars and enthusiasts with more ambitious and frequent programming, and are hard at work planning future exhibitions, residencies, partnerships, field trips, publications, and video projects.

Starting a new museum in New York City is--as we have discovered the hard way!--no small or easy thing; it is also not an inexpensive thing. With this, our first annual appeal, we ask you to consider supporting our attempt to create--and sustain!--a new kind of institution in New York City. With our doors finally open, our grant seeking in progress, and our operations gaining their footing, we're at that delicate moment when we really need the goodwill of our friends to keep the project afloat.

The entire team of The Morbid Anatomy Museum thanks you very much for your consideration, and we hope very much to see you around the museum soon!

If you are interested in donating, or have any questions, you can do so via our fiscal sponsor Brooklyn Arts Council by clicking here.

Image: Rendering by Architects Robert Kirkbride and Anthony Cohn.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

John Dee Double Feature! Eccentric Victorian Taxidermy! Lost Museums! Free Hendrick's Sponsored Open House! This Week and Beyond at Morbid Anatomy

Following is a list of upcoming Morbid Anatomy Museum events. Hope to see you at one or more! 

If you've not yet been out to see our Art of Mourning exhibition--or if you're looking for an excuse to return!--you won't want to miss our free, Hendrick's Gin-sponsored End of Exhibition Open House taking place this Sunday, November 23. The museum will be free for the entire day, and we'll be hosting a full day of short talks, exclusive screenings, special tours, music, demonstrations, cocktails and more.

You can find a full schedule for the day by clicking here; a few highlights include artist Mark Dion (Morbid Anatomy advisory board) with opening and closing remarks; Vicki Fama Daniel (University of Wisconsin) on "The Triangle Fire Morgue and Public Spectacle in Early Twentieth-Century New York"; Evan Michelson (scholar in residence, TV's Oddities) with "A Brief History of Narcotics"; Laetitia Barbier (head librarian) on Mexican devotional artifacts from the permanent collection; Programmer in residence Shannon Taggart with "A Brief History of Ectoplasm"; Mike Zohn (Collector, Star of TV's Oddities) on "Anthropomorphic Taxidermy Dioramas of Cress Funeral Home"; Daniel Margocsy (Hunter College) on "Fake Dragons and the Tattooed Fish"; "Materiality and Melancholy," a special tour by curator Kevin Murphy; live taxidermy demonstrations by Divya Anantharaman and Katie Innamorato and a Victorian hair art demonstration by master jeweler Karen BachmannScreenings by Jon Ronson (journalist, author The Men Who Stare at Goats) and filmmaker in residence Ronni Thomas; a conversation between Mark Dery (cultural critic, author I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts) and Joanna Ebenstein (Morbid Anatomy Museum creative director); a Hendrick's-soaked reception with music by DJ in residence Friese Undine; and much more! 

We at Morbid Anatomy are committed to making our events as affordable as possible, but to do this, we need you support. If you are a fan of what we do, please consider becoming a member (with all the benefits that entails!) by clicking here, or making a donation by clicking here.

  • Wet Specimen Preparation Class with Katie Innamorato
    Sunday, December 7th, 3pm to 6pm, $100, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Saturday January 10th, 12pm - 5pm, $110 one headed/$125 two headed
    , Tickets (and more info) here
  • Anthropomorphic Rabbit Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Saturday, January 17th, 12-6pm, $300, Tickets (and more info) here
  • English Eccentricity: The Taxidermy of Walter Potter and Charles Waterton: An Illustrated Lecture with Dr. Pat Morris.
    Monday, November 17th, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) here
  • John Dee, Part I: Dee Through His Dreams: An Illustrated Lecture with Doug Skinner.
    Tuesday, November 18th, 8pm, $12, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Victorian Hair Art: A Roundtable and Show and Tell and Museum Late Night With Collectors Evan Michelson, Karen Bachmann and Jennifer Berman.
    Wednesday, November 19th, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) here
  • John Dee, Part II: Sex and Spirits: The Dee / Kelley Plural Marriage: An Illustrated Lecture with Don Jolly.
    Thursday, November 20th, 8pm, $12, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Guided tour of Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit “Death becomes Her” with Scholar in Residence Karen Bachmann.
    Saturday, November 22nd, 11am, $25, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Re-Collecting the Lost Museum: The Curious Afterlives of Natural History Specimens An Evening with the Jenks Society for Lost Museums.
    Saturday, November 22nd, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Morbid Anatomy Museum Free End-of-Exhibition Open House Sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin and Featuring Quirky Tours, Taxidermy and Hair Art Demonstrations, Short Talks, Interviews, Music and More!
    Full Schedule Now Posted! Sunday, November 23, 11am - 10pm, FREE; Schedule and details here

  • Charred remains: Spontaneous Human Combustion and You: an Illustrated lecture with Scholar in Residence Karen Bachmann.
    Monday, November 24th, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Pernicious, Pestilent Revenants: The Void of Malevolent Undead Imagery in Medieval England An Illustrated Lecture with Candace Reilly.
    Tuesday, November 25th, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) here
  • BURIED ALIVE! Live Matchbox Theatre Performance by Deborah Kauffmann.
    Thursday, December 4th, 8pm, $20, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Victorian Hair Art Workshop with Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann.
    Saturday, December 6, 11am - 6pm, $150, Tickets (and more info) here 
  • Wet Specimen Preparation Class with Katie InnamoratoSunday, December 7th, 3pm to 6pm, $100, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Commercial Visions: Science, Trade, and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age: An Illustrated Lecture and Book Signing with Dániel Margócsy.
    Tuesday, December 9th, 8pm, $5, Tickets (and more info) here
  • La Frequenza Fantasma: Hunting for the Ghost Frequency: An Illustrated lecture and screening with Chiara Ambrosio
    Wednesday, December 10th, $8, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Extraordinary Birds: The Art of Ornithology Lecture and Book Signing with Paul Sweet.
    Thursday, December 11th, 8pm, $5, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Decadence, Symbolism, and Rock and Roll’s Occult Imagination, An Illustrated Lecture with Peter Bebergal, Author of Season of the Witch: How the Occult How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll.
    Friday, December 12th, 8pm, $10, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Christmas Special Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class with Divya Anatharaman.
    Saturday December 13th, 12pm - 5pm, $110-$125, SOLD OUT (but more info) here
  • The Art of Decay: An Evening of Drawing, Drinks and Music.
    Monday, December 15th, 8pm - 11pm, $15, Tickets (and more info) here
  • The French Pantheon and its Dead: The Grateful Fatherland: An Illustrated talk by Mitch Abidor, Writer and Translator.
    Wednesday December 17th, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) here
  • NYC Gin Society presents: All About Bitters hosted by the NYC Gin Society.
    Friday, December 19th, 7:30pm - 9:30pm, $30 for non-members, $20 for Morbid Anatomy or Gin Society members, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Saturday January 10th, 12pm - 5pm, $110 one headed/$125 two headed
    , Tickets (and more info) here
  • Anthropomorphic Rabbit Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Saturday, January 17th, 12-6pm, $300, Tickets (and more info) here 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"The Madonna of the Monster" or The Marian Cult of “La Madre Santisima de la Luz”: Morbid Anatomy 2014 Day of the Day Tour Report by Board Member Amy Slonaker

Following is a guest post by Amy Slonaker--Morbid Anatomy Museum Board Member and two-time attendee of the Morbid Anatomy Day of the Dead Tour in Mexico. I asked Amy--who is also a bit of a dilettante in the area of religious history--to write a brief report about the phenomenon of “La Madre Santisima de la Luz” as witnessed on our Mexican travels. The information contained in her post, Amy points out, came via the world wide web, so she warmly invites any corrections or addenda; you can email them by clicking here.

The Marian Cult of “La Madre Santisima de la Luz”
The 2014 Morbid Anatomy Day of the Dead Tour was another winner that focused on experiencing the celebration of Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico. It also brought us in touch with the Marian cult of “La Madre Santisima de la Luz.” We had seen her image in a church on last year’s tour but didn’t know her name. Imagine our delight to find this prayer card amongst so many others!

In 2013, while visiting the city of Guanajuato, Mexico, we came across a unique shrine to the Virgin Mary in the Templo de la Compania de Jesus (Temple of Jesuits).

We had never seen a representation of the Virgin Mary like this one which included a fantastical monster’s head with a gaping mouth. It wasn’t until the following year, in Mexico City, that we discovered two prayer cards at the religious mall behind The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City featuring the same monster’s head, with the inscription “La Madre SS De La Luz,” “Most Holy Mother of Light.”

Now with a name to guide us, we traced the interesting origin of this image to Palermo, Sicily, in the early years of the 18th century.

The initial account of the creation of this image was written in Palermo in 1733, and then translated and published in Mexico in 1737(1). It goes like this:

A Jesuit priest wished to have a painting of the Virgin Mary to take with him as he preached throughout Sicily. He called upon a woman who was known to have received multiple visitations from the Virgin Mary. The priest asked the woman to consult with Mary as to how Mary would like her image to appear. Sure enough, the Virgin appeared and provided a detailed description of an image that included her saving a soul from the gaping maw of hell.

After a few missteps--including a painter who didn’t know how to follow directions, and a resulting illness/miraculous healing of the woman who received the vision--a second painting was created that successfully included the Virgin’s wish for a hellmouth.

This painting was then brought to the cathedral in Leon, Mexico, in 1732. From here, a healthy cult to the “Most Holy Mother of Light” spread in the region, accounting for the image of "Nuestra Señora de la Luz" we came across in nearby Guanajuato.

But the plot thickens. We found another example of “Santisima de la Luz” on an altar in the Iglesia de San Miguel Archangel in Mexico City, above a wax reliquary for a figure labeled "Santa Rustica." This time, all the aspects of the Virgin’s requested image existed except the Bosch-like, big-mouthed, hell-monster. What happened to the fanciful fiend from which the fellow on the left should be springing?

It turns out that the notion of Mary directly saving souls out of Hell was doctrinally flawed despite being totally in line with what Mary requested during her visitation of the woman in Sicily. Scholars have noted several versions of “La Madre Santisima de la Luz” in which the hellacious beast has been covered over or with its presence omitted in the initial rendering. While some researchers opine this was to rectify any doctrinal fuzziness, another explanation may be that the appearance of the Jesuit-sponsored cult of “La Madre Santisima de la Luz” arrived only shortly before the Jesuits were kicked out of Mexico in 1767 by order of Pope Clement XIV (2). Hence, the Jesuit-promulgated “La Madre Santisima de la Luz” became expunged and replaced with a more generic Virgin.

We look forward to more sightings of images of “La Madre Santisima de la Luz”-- some of which exist in the present-day United States in parts of California and New Mexico. But we can’t help  but hope that the next shrine we see includes a huge monster head.
  1. La Devocion de Maria Madre Santissima de la Luz, En Mexico, en la Imprenta Real del superior Gobierno, y del Nuevo Rezado, de Doña Maria de Rivera, en el Empedradillo. Año de 1737.
  2. Dominus ac Redemptor is the papal brief promulgated on 21 July 1773 by which Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sergei Eisenstein's Unfinished Film ¡Que viva México!

In the words of October's Scholar in Residence Salvador Olguín:
In 1930, after failing to secure enough backing for his motion picture projects in the US, which would have marked his entrance into Hollywood, Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein decided to go for the second best thing in North America, and headed south to Mexico. There, he shot extensively: about 40 hours worth of film. The idea was to produce a movie celebrating Mexico’s violent and diverse history. The title: ¡Que viva México!

Eisenstein would never finish editing the film. All we are left with is a version from 1979, and a legend.
Above is a wonderful clip from Eisenstein's unfinished ¡Que viva México!, compliments of our friend James Bell.

The Rise of--and Hysteria Related to--The 1960s "Death Disc": Guest Post by Eric Huang, Morbid Anatomy Foreign Corespondent

In the following guest post, Morbid Anatomy foreign corespondent Eric Huang reports on the little-remembered phenomenon--and hysteria related to--the 1960s "death disc," or songs in which the love interest dies "due to a lovers’ spat, jealousy, a cruel twist of fate, or suicide."

Just a few well known examples of "death discs"--which spanned such genres as rock, Motown and country and western--are "Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las (1965); "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobby Gentry (1967); "Tell Laura I Love Her" by Ray Petersen (1960); and "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning (1960).

Following is the full and fascinating story, along with videos of ten of the best remembered "death discs." Thanks, Eric, for this excellent report!


In the 1960s, there was a trend in popular music dubbed, ‘death discs’ or ‘splatter platters.’ All were songs about love-lost in which the protagonist – often male and almost always named Johnny or Tommy – dies due to a lovers’ spat, jealousy, a cruel twist of fate, or suicide. The girl in the song is usually the one at fault. It’s her honor that he protects to the death, her infidelity/ambivalence that leads to his demise.

On a recent BBC documentary about songs banned in the UK, historians described how death discs were new outlets for women, finally able to sing about their tormented modern lives. The songs reflected a rejection of 1950s morality by a new generation, but it wasn’t a pretty picture: those who didn’t obey the rules always met with death. Jim Stark, James Dean’s character in ‘Rebel without a Cause’ (1955), is a prime example - as are Romeo and Juliet, who were resurrected in Franco Zeffirelli’s award-winning box office smash in 1968. This sexed-up adaptation of the Shakespearean tale had all the ingredients of an archetypal death disc tragedy: youth, rebellion, passion, death.

The plane and car crashes that ended many teen celebrities’ lives from the 50s onwards were a massive influence on this morbid music trend. Sports cars, motorcycles and high-flying airplanes represented another new way of life, one that was too fast for many. Death discs were about losing lovers in exactly this way: tragically in crashes just before a wedding day or right after a warning to be careful. The death disc hit, ‘Three Stars’, by Tommy Dee was about the very plane crash that killed Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly in 1959.

Death discs spanned genres: from rock and roll to Motown to country and western. But the most popular death disc of all was ‘Leader of the Pack’ by the Shangri-Las. Singer Mary Weiss laments the tragic story of her hot-blooded biker boyfriend. They were deeply in love, but she bowed to societal pressure to ‘find someone new.’ Moments after breaking up, a fatal crash ends his life. So popular was this song about teenage death, that it toppled the Beatles from the US charts!

The popularity of death discs shocked the establishment. Journalist Alexandra Apolloni describes Seventeen magazine’s condemnation of these morbid songs:
A 1965 editorial made it clear that good Seventeen readers shouldn’t be listening to death discs: “I expect the Johnny Mathis version of ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ to live considerably longer than the Shangri-Las’ gory ditties about motorcycling or hot-rodding death scenes."
Nevertheless, ‘Leader of the Pack’ and numerous songs like it flourished in the 1960s. The music industry cashed in on a never-ending obsession with untimely death, turning young idols like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe – later Jimmy Hendrix, Ian Curtis, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse - into immortals.

Here is a playlist of ten 1960s death disc faves:

"Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las (1965)

"Condition Red" by The Goodees (1968)

"Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning (1960)

"Tell Laura I Love Her" by Ray Petersen (1960)

"Patches" by Dickie Lee (1962)

"Johnny Remember Me" by Johnny Leyton (1961)

"Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobby Gentry (1967)

"The Hero" by Bernadette Carroll (1965)

"Ebony Eyes" by The Everly Brothers (1961)

"Car Crash" by The Cadets (1960)

"The Paris Morgue Closed to Sightseers," 1907

Doing research for the 2015 Morbid Anatomy Museum Wall Calendar, I came across the wonderful tidbit above from the a 1907 issue of Australia's Kalgoorlie Miner. For more on the Paris morgue--which attracted throngs of tourists throughout the 19th century eager to view the bodies of the unclaimed dead--see these recent Morbid Anatomy posts (1, 2, 3). To find out more about the calendar--and pre-order a copy!--click here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Vesalius & the Invention of the Modern Body" Symposium, St. Louis, Missouri; February 26 - February 28, 2015

For those in the St. Louis area: February of next year, St. Louis University and Washington University will be co-presenting an interdisciplinary symposium to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of the birth of Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), founder of the study of modern human anatomy.

The symposium--which runs from February 26 - February 28, 2015--is open to the public, and will feature some of our favorite international anatomical scholars including Michael Sappol of the National Library of Medicine; Andrea Carlino of the University of Geneva
; Jonathan Sawday of Saint Louis University; and Rebecca Messbarger, author of The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini. Morbid Anatomy founder Joanna Ebenstein will also be speaking.

Schedule follows. To find out more--and get tickets--click here. Hope to see you there!
This interdisciplinary symposium will celebrate the 500-year anniversary of the birth of Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), founder of the study of modern human anatomy. Saint Louis University and Washington University plan to jointly host three days of events especially inspired by the landmark publication of Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica (Basel, 1543 and 1555) and the new critical edition and translation of this work, the New Fabrica. The conference program will feature a roster of internationally-renowned speakers, including keynote speakers Daniel Garrison, Malcolm Hast, and Sachiko Kusukawa. In addition to the presentation of academic papers of leading research, the schedule will also include an anatomy demonstration, rare books workshops, and a publishers’ exhibit hall.
Because the Fabrica represented a collaborative project involving a scientist (Vesalius), a humanist (Johannes Oporinus, the printer), and an artist (Jan van Kalkar), the goal of the conference is to encourage a network of scholars working in disparate fields to explore the potential for future interdisciplinary research. 
February 26
Saint Louis University — Medical Center Library

6:00 - 7:00pm OPENING SESSION
Welcome Remarks by [TBD] Location TBD
An Updated Census of the 1st Edition (1543) and 2nd Edition (1555) of Vesalius’ de Humani Corporis Fabrica in the USA

Stephen N. Joffe MD FACS FRCS (Edin, Glas) FCS (SA)

7:00 - 9:00pm RECEPTION* and TOURS
Saint Louis University Medical School (more info to follow)

*The Welcome Reception is sponsored by the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Stephen N. Joffe

February 27
Saint Louis University — Frost Campus

DuBourg Hall - Pere Marquette Gallery 
Publishers’ Exhibit Hall open

8:00am-5:30pm DuBourg - Grand Hall

Opening Remarks: Philip Gavitt (Saint Louis University)

SESSION 1 - Public Dissections as Spectacle in Early Modern Europe DuBourg Hall-Pere Marquette Gallery
Session Chair: Anne Stiles (Saint Louis University)
  • Andrea Carlino (University of Geneva)

  • Cynthia Klestinec (University of Miami Ohio)

11:00am SESSION 2 - Discovery and Deconstruction of the Body: Cultural Contexts of the Fabrica 
DuBourg Hall – Pere Marquette Gallery

Session Chair: Sara van den Berg (Saint Louis University)
  • Jonathan Sawday (Saint Louis University)
  • Glenn Harcourt (Independent Scholar)
12:30am LUNCH BREAKLunch at Saint Louis University – Refectory, DuBourg Hall
; Shuttle service from DuBourg Hall to Young Hall

2:00pm SESSION 3 - Mapping the Interior: 3D Anatomy Demonstration Young Hall Auditorium

Shuttle service from Young Hall to DuBourg Hall

4:00pm KEYNOTE ADDRESS - Creating the New Fabrica
DuBourg Hall – Pere Marquette Gallery

Introduction by: Jonathan Sawday (Saint Louis University)

Keynote Speakers: Daniel Garrison and Malcolm Hast (Northwestern University)

6:00 - 7:30pm RECEPTION*
Pius XII Memorial Library – 2nd floor/TBD

*The Keynote Reception is sponsored by the generosity of Pius XII Memorial Library

February 28
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine

EPNEC Center

8:45am OPENING REMARKSby Thomas Woolsey

9:00am SESSION 4 - Anatomical Specimens in the Early Modern Period
EPNEC Center

Session Chair: Amy Eisen Cislo, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Rebecca Messbarger (Washington University in St. Louis)

    Re-casting the Vesalian Dissection Scene: Wax Anatomical Figures of the Italian Enlightenment
  • Joanna Ebenstein (Morbid Anatomy Museum) From the Anatomical Theatre to the Anatomical Venus: The Intersection of Entertainment and Edification in Public Anatomies

10:30am COFFEE BREAK11:00am SESSION 5 - From the Renaissance to the Present: 19th and 21st Century Anatomical Imager
EPNEC Center

Session Chair: Elisabeth Brander, Bernard Becker Medical Library
Michael Sappol (National Library of Medicine)
    The apotheosis of the dissected plate: Spectacles of layering and transparency in 19th- and 20th-century anatomy
R. Gilbert Jost (Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine)
    Visualizing the Human Body Using Modern Imaging Techniques

2:00pm SESSION 6 - Small SessionsBecker Medical Library
  • Suzanne Karr Schmidt – Rare Books
Marisa Anne Bass – Rare Books
Jane Phillips Conroy and Glen Conroy – Tour of Anatomy Labs
3:30pm BREAK

EPNEC Center
Introduction by: Rebecca Messbarger (Washington University in St. Louis)
Sachiko Kusukawa (Cambridge University) The Body in the Book: the Fabrica and the Epitome (1543)

5:45 - 7:30pm RECEPTION
EPNEC Center
Image: Hand Colored Frontispiece to Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica; sourced here. Citation: "This presentation copy for Charles V is the only one known to have been hand colored under the direction of Vesalius. It is, by way of an anonymous donor, now in the New York Public Library. This image is from their Seeing is Believing exhibition."

The Churches and Mummies of Mexico City and Oaxaca: Photos from the Morbid Anatomy Museum Day of the Dead Trip, 2014

The Morbid Anatomy Musuem crew has just returned from our annual Day of the Dead field trip in Mexico. This year, our trip--as always, under the guidance of Scholar in Residence Salvador Olguín--took us to Oaxaca and Mexico City, where we saw markets, mummies, churches, skeleton puppet shows, three day of the dead celebrations, and much, much more.

We have just posted a set of photographs--from which the above are drawn--documenting some of the fabulous churches, mummies and street scenes we saw whilst in Mexico; you can see the full set--at much higher quality!--by clicking here.

For more, you can see Day of the Dead celebration photos here, and photos from our visit to Enriqueta Vargas' Tultitlan-based Santa Muerte Shrine by clicking here. If you would like to be put on the wait list for the 2015 Day of the Dead trip, you can email Salvador at info [at] or sign up for the Morbid Anatomy Mailing List (and thus receive an alert when it is announced) by clicking here.

And thanks so much to the forty or so folks who joined us on our trip this year, from such far-flung locales as New Orleans, London, Oakland, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Virginia, San Francisco, and New York City! Hope you had a great time, and hope to see you again next year.