Sadly, the Morbid Anatomy Museum has shuffled off this mortal coil. The Gowanus museum dedicated to exploring “death, beauty and that which falls between the cracks” announced in an email that it has ceased operations after two and a half years. At least it left a beautiful corpse.
In a suicide note penned in owl blood newsletter blast, the museum gave itself the following post-mortem:
Over the past two and a half years, we have worked hard to create a museum unlike any other, and to support a community that values our distinctive exhibitions, lecture series, and workshops. We are proud of the unique, award winning and critically acclaimed work we have done. Good press, however–as we have learned–does not pay the rent. Our institution was made possible by an incredible investment from our co-founder and a dedicated group of early supporters, but we were sadly unable to develop the broad support from our audience and from grants, gifts, and other sponsorship that is necessary for sustainability.
Morbid Anatomy certainly did everything it could to stave off the Reaper. There was the lecture on “Psychedelics & Death,” presented by a practitioner of “psychedelic-inspired therapy.” There was the workshop on insect dioramas, led by a Senior Insect Preparator. And the taxidermy show featuring a four-tusked walrus (taxidermy was a big thing there). They even hosted an Institute for Horror Studies. This past summer, the museum housed the eery (ear-y?) specimens that ended up in the Alamo Drafthouse’s House of Wax bar.
For all of its funereal obsessions, Morbid Anatomy wasn’t just a Mütter Museum-esque curiosity cabinet where the Lydia Deetzes of Brooklyn could mope amidst the musty two-headed animals. They had a singles night complete with a game of Operation, where the subjects of discussion ranged from ghosts to taxidermy to cos-play to H.P. Lovecraft (okay, maybe “ranged” isn’t the right word). And they even taught us how to game Tinder.
Nor were the museum’s celebrations confined to the Day of the Dead. More recently, the place put on a holiday flea market, on the off-chance “wet specimens” were on your Christmas shopping list. The museum’s anniversary party was representative of its diverse array of programming, e.g. the speaker who gave a popular talk on spontaneous human combustion. Sorry, but you don’t get that at an NYU lecture hall (except sometimes, around finals time).
Morbid Anatomy was started in 2008 as a DIY space by writer Joanna Ebenstein before it went legit inside of a three-story former nightclub in Gowanus. So, who knows, maybe it can be summoned from the dead. In its goodbye message, the museum wrote, “We don’t yet know what comes next, but we’ll look forward to seeing you on the other side of this.”