The Museum of Modern Oddities

Review in Issue 15-3 | Autumn 2003

This gem of a performance combines installation, a guided tour and storytelling in an event that is comic, entertaining and innovative.

Under the dinosaur’s tail in the entrance, we are met by Dr Constance B Sterne, who announces that the tour will take us to parts of the museum not normally seen by the public. Already we are complicit in the real/fake event.

On the gantry overlooking the dinosaurs we pause briefly, to learn that it was presented to the museum by Sylvester Stallone from his very own gym. We are then led through some imposing double doors to find ourselves behind the scenes. Her assistants (beautifully acted by students from Holland Park School), take over.

We visit the Museum of Oddities, which, amongst other things, contains Hitler’s teddy with the stuffing ripped out. As well as the exhibits we can inspect the notices (‘Lost in third floor lift, stuffed gazelle. If found please return to Martin in Vertebrates’) and the mission statement of Constantin Fripp, founder of the museum: ‘My museum is about the ephemeral and the nearly invisible…!’

The students lead us into a cavernous space, where they enact stories and poems about their perceptions of the museum. Simply staged, using only torchlight, these stories have an eerie and poetic intensity, with deep resonance about archives, memory, and our relationship with animals.

Dr Sterne leads us back into the public part of the museum (‘We’ll quickly nip through human evolution…’), pausing to tell us about their sister museum in Tring, which contains enormous numbers of stuffed dogs.

She finally conducts us to the ‘oddities’ section where we select ephemera and objects from our pockets to contribute to the display of ‘modern culture’. I contributed an aspirin.

Artforms
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-3
p. 26