.. Happy to be a 56.1 miler ..

Part 1

 

Screw the term 40 miler. I was going "all out"; Iím taking the museum of curiosities on the road.

 

The Museum of Curiosities is the public side of my personal collection, a collection that has been busting at the seams almost since I started it. With little space left in the glass front cabinet in the kitchen, and things piled up in the office, I have decided that this collection needed a larger home, or at least for now a larger audience.

 

The first chance to come my way was at Arisia, a science fiction fantasy convention just outside of Boston. Having no experience in this sort of thing, I thought the best idea would be to just jump right in, both feet, sink or swim I was going for it.

 

My background is in the theatre, I had been a scenic designer, lighting designer, pyro-technition, and prop master in my years in the professional theatre, but this would be different, this "theatrical presentation" would have me as the face of it, not hiding safely back stage. Still I thought I could manage to come up with an entertaining, "entertainment" for lack of a better term.

 

First things first, what is it Iím trying to do? Here is where the theatre background comes inÖ its all about the show, if the two vocations, museum curator, and thespian had anything in common it was the presentation elements, and with my museum the "show" was to be as important as the product, or the items Iím showing.

 

Scratching my head, and asking my better half, and we settled on "Eight Corner Globe" as the production company name, as it sounded "slightly off" and generated an easy to visualize image, that I thought would evoke the "olden days" you know, that vague era of "days gone by" not as old as "ye olden days" but not new as yesterday. Once a name was settled upon, a snappy logo design to sell the image was easy enough. Next came the hard part, who the hell am I to present mysteries and curiosities from the eight corners of the globe? Seemed like Scott doesnít hold a position of mystery let alone authority, so Professor Badger was born. Prof. Badger can speak with authority on most any subject, and is an expert in all things fantastic. In other words, my new persona had no problem with a bold faced lie if needed. My Girl Friday became Elle Emenope (say it fast) with long legs, short shorts, top hat and tails, she became my outside talker. If she couldnít stop a wandering crowd, no one could.

 

With only a couple of weeks since committing to attending the event, I had to get my ass in gear. Display cases had to be built, official letterhead, and signage had to be designed, and letís face it, funny facial hair had to be grown. The professor is nothing without a split beard to hide behind.

 

Ms. Elle got to work with the design of the signage, coming up with a swell logo, which vaguely evoked the feel of a 70ís science club, and also created many smaller signs to identify all of the curiosities on display. Most items got a simple cardstock sign with a minimal bit of information, such as the snakes retrieved from the stomach of a "chronic snake eater" (it just sounded like it would cause the masses to squirm, vague enough for them to create their own stories) Other items got the full treatment, a nice framed story on museum stationary, mounted with photos and supporting documents. But I think the smartest bit of work, took no work at all. We had decided that not everything needed an explanation, let us leave the viewer to wonder, and after all, with fewer details presented, I was free to make stuff up on a whim.

 

While Ms. Elle worked her magic on the presentation details, I went to work on the actual collection. I pulled most of the items form my personal collection, and made a few more especially for the event.

 

Having never curated a museum of any sort, I feel unrestrained to follow any formal rules, or logic. I created cabinet displays loosely linked, showing an evolving story, from mild to wild, interweaving both real and imagined curiosities. What would the general population be interested in? Would they be interested at all? I had no idea if this antiquated form of entertainment would fly in todayís world of fast paced internet, and video games. I know I would be interested, but what about the average convention attendant? Looking to test out my layout, I did what anyone looking to study the prurient nature of man would do. I staged a quick preview with my mother, (a nurse) her husband (a retired cop) and my nieces (two 11 year olds). Admittedly not the perfect demographic slice, it would have to do. My little survey proved to be quite valuable, the size of type on the signage would be made larger, the actual displays made sturdier, but the interest level of the items seemed to be spot on. I answered a few questions and felt somehow obligated to me honest when questioned by my mother, but immediately saw the value and opportunity to augment a story when needed.

 

Scott Bonelli

 


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