Sunday, October 10, 2010

Marvelous Museum

A highlight of the Oakland Museum is Mark Dion's "Marvelous Museum," an exhibit that's dispersed across the art galleries, and that draws on artifacts that the museum had warehoused. There's also a curators' area that juxtaposes the artist's hypothesized office with those of two plausible predecessors. The oldest is based on Henry Snow, whose natural history museum was one of three combined to form the current museum. As our guide Marina McDougall explained, he was a big-game hunter who favored dioramas. The two-year old elephant calf pictured here once had a place in one. Ms. McDougall is a co-author of a book on the exhibit published by Chronicle Books and The Believer. As museum folks will tell you, what's stored is often as remarkable as the exhibits. Turning things inside out was brilliant.

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