AI: The Impossible Museum

Fellow MALer Ryan made something really, AMAZINGLY cool. He made a Malaysian Dragon out of his dinner. If you haven’t already read his article, go check it out.

In his article, Ryan mentions a concept (that he made up) called The Museum Effect:

The Museum Effect is how the dim lighting, glass cases, Latin subscript, dry copy, hushed tones and felt ropes all combine to give an aura of truth and infallibility. The display style for artifacts of historical worth has become so universally accepted that one can co-opt those same rules to create a compelling lie.

Imagine a museum that takes this concept and just runs with it. Cases filled with imaginary beasts. Ancient maps of fabled lands. Designs for machines that cannot exist, but do. Evolutionary diagrams and fossils of alien species. An Impossible Museum.

If you were the curator for The Impossible Museum, what would you have on display?

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

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Brian George

Brian George

Brian George is an illustrator who lives and works in the Van Beardswick neighborhood of Brooklyn. His fierce love of cheesecake is often (but not always) thwarted by his intolerance for lactose. He will draw and paint for your amusement (‘amusement’ is archaic Etruscan slang for ‘money’). Visit his portfolio, follow his tweets @brianggeorge or on G+


  1. June 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    P.S. If anyone knows of anything like this having been done in the past, leave a link!

  2. June 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    The Museum of Jurassic Technology is probably what you want: http://www.mjt.org/ . I’ll be impressed if anything comes closer!

    There’s a wonderful book about it, in case you’re not local to the Los Angeles area to visit the actual place: http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Wilsons-Cabinet-Wonder-Jurassic/dp/0679764895/

    It may not quite be what you expect, because some of the things are dangerously close to real, or actually real perhaps, such as their collection of crank letters written to Mt Wilson Observatory. It’s hard to tell, though. A magnificent place for sure.

  3. June 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    @Joshuazucker: Oh! I’ve seen been to that site before. Fascinating stuff. I’ll have to check out the book. Thanks!

  4. June 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    You mean, aside from the Creation Museum?

  5. June 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    HiRISE images of Lowell’s Martian canals? Unicorn fossils excavated from biblical sea beds? Ooh, and THIS thing:

  6. June 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    How about an exhibit of perpetual motion machines through the ages?

  7. June 9, 2011 at 12:37 am

    If you were the curator for The Impossible Museum, what would you have on display?

    Anything I say will be typical and obvious.

  8. June 9, 2011 at 4:56 am


  9. June 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    @Mellow, So true but still awesome. 🙂

    What about a collection of rocks from distant planets across the universe?

  10. June 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Beauvais Lyons (University of Tennessee) has created extremely complex projects relating to this subject. In fact, he’s created entire civilizations and constructed exhibitions about them. For just one example, he’ll come up with a particular style of pottery that a civilization made, create that pottery, break and bury it, dig it up later, then photograph it as if it were an archaeological find. He also displays some of the “artifacts” he “finds,” and makes prints of fake animals that he presents as real. He makes up stories about his identity and about the organizations behind some of the projects (such as his Association for Creative Zoology). It’s all very tongue-in-cheek and some of the projects are very much poking fun at religion.



    You may also want to check out the writer Jorge Luis Borges, who was way ahead of his time with this kind of idea. Among other things, he wrote reviews of books that didn’t exist, and wrote extremely detailed “factual” papers that referenced non-existent sources. My favorite book by him is a bestiary called ‘The Book of Imaginary Beings.’

  11. June 16, 2011 at 7:53 am

    @slwl: Thanks for the links. Lyons sounds incredibly cool and I’ll definitely look into it more. Along the lines of Borges, have you read House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski? Sounds like there are some interesting similarities there.

  12. June 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I think Lyons is pretty brilliant. It’s too bad he’s not well known. One of my painting professors at college recommended him to me based on my interests – I don’t think I ever would’ve found him on my own. I haven’t read ‘House of Leaves’ but I’ll check it out now, thanks!

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