article about culture, history and art of Cabinet of Curiosities
was produced on the occasion of the solo fine art exhibition by
Takeshi Yamada entitled “Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World
Wonders: Cabinet of Curiosities” at the Brooklyn Public Library
– Coney Island Branch in Coney Island area of Brooklyn, New
York. The manuscript was produced by Dr. Eriko N. Bond, noted
art critic and book author in New York City, as told by Takeshi
Yamada. Photographs featured in this article were taken by
Yamada, his friends and associates.
Yamada in his Chamber of Curiosities in Baltimore, Maryland
36 x 30
inch, oil on canvas, 1983 (Detail)
Yamada’s Recent Cabinets of Curiosities
Since 1984, Takeshi Yamada has held a large number of public
pay-per-view exhibitions of his circus sideshow gaffs (taxidermy
and manmade specimens/artifacts) across the nation in America.
These specific types of exhibitions are not “normal” fine art
exhibitions (free for viewing and each attraction is for sale)
at universities, museums, government buildings and commercial
galleries by Takeshi Yamada.
Note: Government run (non-profit) institutions sometimes do not
allow artists to engage in selling any artworks at the
exhibition site during the show. Examples of them where Osaka
City Hall in Japan, Brooklyn Borough Hall, Salt Marsh Nature
Center, Orchard Beach Nature Center, Brooklyn Public Library
(main branch and all the branch locations).
Yamada’s circus sideshow gaffs have been displayed at state
fairs and stadiums in major American cities. Here are selected
examples of Yamada’s major sideshows. These are not Single-O
Shows (show of only one attraction) or small Tent Shows (show
with only a few gaffs).
Manhattan/Brooklyn/Bronx/Syracuse/Hamburg/Elmira, New York
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Meadowlands/East Rutherford, New Jersey
Raleigh/Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Note: Yamada has over 1,000 items of natural curiosities,
oddities, unique artifacts, and gaffs (mostly created by him).
His largest one is the Giant Sea Serpent of Glasgow,
Massachusetts (31 feet 7 inch long). His smallest one is the
Human-faced Ant (he has about a dozen of them).
The following series of photographs features Takeshi Yamada’s
selected major circus sideshow exhibitions in New York City, in
the style of a Cabinet of Curiosities in recent years.
The Cabinet of Curiosities by Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World
Wonders installed for a local
sideshow company ($1 fee for viewing) in Coney Island in the
summer of 2005. Over 3000 people
paid for and enjoyed his sideshow. This Cabinet of Curiosities
contains 29 high quality rare
specimens and sideshow gaffs created by the artist. It was
considered by many as the largest
and most comprehensive “Store Show” style sideshow held in Coney
Island in many decades.
Yamada’s Chamber of Curiosities at a local sideshow company in
Coney Island in 2005.
(left) A large wooden bird cage with two Chinese Vampire Monkeys
and their nests.
(right) Curiosities on the wall include 4-feet Fiji mermaid,
artifacts of Dreamland fire of 1911,
and 4x6 feet shadowbox containing five pieces of circus sideshow
gaffs and a painting.
Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders transformed the main
auditorium of the Salt Marsh
Nature Center in Marine Park area of Brooklyn, New York into a
giant Chamber of Curiosities.
Yamada exhibited over 58 circus sideshow gaffs and artworks
entitled “Homage to the Horseshoe
Crab” there in 2003. (Sometimes the director of the exhibition
hall demands more “artistic” display,
which means a lot of empty space between each item.)
(photograph by Eriko N. Bond)
(left) At the above mentioned show, Yamada gave a public art
lecture on horseshoe crabs,
wildlife-inspired artwork, and sideshows. He also gave a live
musical performance of his originally
composed musical pieces by using his computer for public.
(photographs by Diane M. Taros)
(right). Yamada’s original horseshoe crab telson dipping pens on
the stand, 18-inch Nuclear
Radiation Giant Stag Beetle of Bikini Atoll, Horseshoe Crab
Warrior Helmet and a Skull
Of the ancient warrior excavated from the Palace of Ocean are
displayed in glass fish tanks.
In 2003, Yamada transformed the huge space of the Arsenal
Gallery (owned and operated by the
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation) in Manhattan,
New York, into a chamber of curiosities
with his 86 gaffs and artworks. (Here again, the gallery
director required greater spacing between displays.)
(left) Yamada with his Sea Rabbit at the 2006 opening reception
of another solo exhibition,
this one at the Salt Marsh Nature Center, entitled “Rare and
Extinct Marine Creatures”
(right) Yamada exhibited his 54 pieces of exotic specimens,
gaffs and taxidermy
artworks on the walls and in a dozen fish tanks. Yamada also
gave a lecture on the art
of circus sideshows, taxidermy, and wildlife conservation.
(photographs by Diane M. Taros)
shows at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition Art Gallery
in Red Hook area of Brooklyn,
New York in
2005 and 2006. The number of exhibition items was restricted for
each wall space
by the show
organizers for these art shows. Yamada also selected attractions
mainly fit for wall
display except his Coney Island Bland Exotic Canned Foods on the
the Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus in 2006. This unique
theme sideshow is held
occasion of the New York State Marine Education Association
Annual Conference. Yamada
several major non-profit wildlife conservation organizations and
participates their events.
Continue to Part 3
All rights reserved by Takeshi
Yamada, November 2006. Revised April 2007.
Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of
World Wonders in Coney Island, 1405 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn,
New York 11224, USA.
Special thanks to Eriko N.
Bond, Lauren D. Travis, and Deborah
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