30 January 2013

The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things -- Abandoned Suitcases of Insane Asylum Patients & other oddities




There are many many items that were used by our ancestors that we no longer make use of.  In fact, there are things we have used that our children and grandchildren have NOT used.  For example, every year Beloit College produces The Mindset List which really makes us aware of how much the world has changed in the last 18 years!

Now let’s get back to our ancestors!  Imagine all that has changed in the course of your life and now let’s extrapolate that back to our ancestors!  I cannot even imagine some of what they used.  Think of when you visit a museum or a historic house and you are asked “what do you think they used this for?”  How often have you been stumped?

This was brought to mind when I was introduced to a website called The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things, and specifically, a display of abandoned suitcases of insane asylum patients.  Not only do these suitcases poignantly tell a story about someone who became incarcerated in an insane asylum, they also give us a glimpse of the time period and world in which they lived.

So, though the site gives you an interesting glimpse into historical artifacts it lives up to it’s name when you consider that when you browse the collections, the first ones have titles such as:
  • Albino beauty
  • Assassination sandwiches
  • Baba Yaga
  • Balloon head horse
  • Bejeweled bird guts
  • Birds playing pianos

Need I say more!

Additionally, often as genealogists we talk about hereditary traits, genetics and similar topics.  Fascinating faces: Ulric Collette’s ‘Portraits génétiques’ shows combinations of parents and children, siblings and more.  They really are fascinating to look at.  We so often are trying to match up features between individuals of different ages as we look at photos through time or try to correlate names and faces on un-labeled photos.  What if we tried to “match” up faces such as this artist has?

I found this a provocative website and it was hard to not want to check out more and more of the collections.  Some made me laugh, some made me seriously ponder the lives of our ancestors and the role of genetics, and some intrigued me like hidden mothers in victorian portraits.


Did any particular collection really catch your eye?  Were you able to associate it with your ancestors and/or your research into them?







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