17 August 2009

Cabinet of Curiosities

One of my favorite things in Dublin is the Natural History Museum, because entering it is like walking into the Victorian Age.

You couldn't have designed it better if you were a Hollywood art director. The building itself dates from 1856. Inside, glass cases overflow with taxidermy-ed "wonders" from around the world. If Hogwarts Academy had its own museum, this is what it would look like. Until they recently closed it for refurbishments (*gasp!* I'm terrified of what they'll do in the name of "progress") it hadn't been altered in 150 years. In other words, it was a museum documenting what museums used to be.

Believe it or not this post does have a point.

So a few weeks ago Mr. Sybarite and I were shmying (another one of my Mother-in-Law-isms, a faux-Yiddish word for non-committal commercial browsing , i.e. window shopping) at H.D. Buttercup (where you go when things get rough) when what to my wandering eyes did appear, but this chair:
The greatgreatgrandfather of the Egg Chair! What's that you ask? That taupe-y brown fabric? Why, yes. Yes, it is upholstered in burlap. Which gives it a real cabinet of curiosities feel, like the inside of the entomological specimen box to which you'd pin your rare Peruvian butterfly. Which got me thinking about those spindly black legs: also a little insect-ish, aren't they? And that bulbous dome, and the way the chair is segmented into thirds; it suggests head-thorax-abdomen, if you ask me. A little creepy, a little formal, a lot Victorian. Just like the Natural History Museum.

Thus inspired, I decided this chair deserved its own room, in honor of the museum.

The room would have to be a library or a conservatory (I'm talking to you, Colonel Mustard). Obviously the above chair would be the centerpiece. If in a library, it'd be next to the fireplace, backed by a wall (with its own rolling ladder) of leather-bound books.

Since India was the crown jewel of the British Empire until the year after the museum was built, this sofa's peacock color scheme and paisley pattern supply the necessary colonial element.

But lets not get too carried away. Rather than a giant piece of taxidermy in the "I say, big game hunting and that sort of carry on, old chap" school, in my ultimate fantasy, you'd have two of Brancusi's Bird in Space bronzes...

... symmetrically arranged to face one another, suggesting elephant tusks.

Naturally, we'll want some glass cloche bell jars around (available from this excellent website that flatters my inner gardener with serious gardening supplies at the same time as it tempts me with pretty "lifestyle" purchases) to house a collection of carnivorous plants. Creepy!!

And to make sure the room isn't a Victorian pastiche while still running amok with the biology theme, why not window blinds inspired by photosynthesis?

I know some of you out there have more ideas for this room. Don't be shy! Tell us what else would fit in. You'd better hurry, though. I'll have to submit these ideas to the Museum right away. Who knows, there might still be time for them to work an insulated, isolated bug-like chair into the room that loves it.

1 comment:

  1. I don't want to push the Victorian business too hard, but I feel like we need some burial "artefacts" freshly pillaged from ancient Egyptian graves and perhaps a fine display of Papuan penis sheaths (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koteka). And to liven the place up, some wall-mounted stag ferns?