The definition of “Jurassic Technology”
The term “Jurassic technology” has a loose meaning. Instead, it harkens back to a time when scientific understanding of natural history was still nascent and museums were more akin to Renaissance cabinets of curiosities.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a clever, self-aware homage to private museums from the past, like the Ashmolean at Oxford from the 16th century, where items from science, nature, and art were displayed for the “rational amusement” of scholars, and the Philadelphia Museum from the 19th century, which housed bird skeletons and mastodon bones. Instead, it harkens back to a time when museums were more akin to the Renaissance and science had barely begun to map out natural history. David Wilson, a 65-year-old native of Los Angeles who studied science at Kalamazoo College in Michigan and filmmaking at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, is the man behind it. Wilson, a Victorian don with his intellectual demeanour, says, “I grew up adoring museums. My earliest memory of them is just pure ecstasy. After trying to make science documentaries when I was older, I realised that I truly wanted to own a museum rather than work for one. He rented a nearly abandoned building in 1988, and together with his wife Diana Wilson, they started putting up displays. We didn’t believe there was any chance we would survive here, he recalls. “The building was intended to be destroyed!” Wilson purchased the structure in 1999, but the museum gradually grew to occupy the entire space. Today, it receives more than 23,000 foreign visitors each year.
Ant eggs, previously considered to treat “love-sickness,” and duck breath preserved in a test tube, once thought to treat thrush, are two examples of the medical oddities displayed in the medicine cabinets. The minuscule sculptures of Napoleon and Pope John Paul II, each fitting in the eye of a needle, give certain exhibits a Coney Island vibe. Some are unsettlingly stunning. With stereograph glasses and an agitated composition by Estonian composer Arvo Part, stereo floral radiographs—X-rays of flowers that reveal their “deep anatomy”—can be viewed in three dimensions.
Radio story on the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
On Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles, there is a modest, unassuming storefront known as the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Inside, there is a unique museum. For the past fifteen years, exhibits with seemingly impossible themes have been mounted there by David Wilson, the museum’s creator and a guy of prodigiously extraordinary imagination. He has gathered spore-inhaling ants, x-ray bats, human horns, carvings from peach pits, and original oblivion theories.
Lawrence Weschler’s 1995 book Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, which was a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, examined the natural and supernatural phenomena Wilson has gathered at the museum. The Museum of Jurassic Technology was brought to life on radio in 1996 by Weschler and producer David Isay.
A mission-driven independent production firm founded by Dave Isay in 1994, Sound Portraits Productions is the source of this documentary.
What does the Lower Jurassic Museum aim to accomplish?
Although the meaning of the word “Lower Jurassic” in relation to the museum’s holdings is unclear and unexplained, it describes itself as “an educational institution committed to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic.”
When many of the significant items we have now were starting to take shape, the Museum of Jurassic Technology got its start. Many of the exhibits that are now recognized as being a part of the Museum were, in fact, previously a part of other, less well-known collections. These items were then combined into the single collection that has come to be known as The Museum of Jurassic Technology, and the resulting arrangement has been the subject of much debate in academic circles and among the general public.
The Museum, on the other hand, was unwilling to sit back and let trends in sensibility shift through time. The Museum engaged in a regulated growth programme, with the exception of the times of the century’s big conflicts (during which times significant pieces of the collection were nearly lost). The visitor virtually travels through time as they stroll around the Museum. As the visitor approaches the far end of the museum, they are surrounded by the earliest exhibits. The visitor first sees contemporary displays there.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology has adapted and changed throughout the years, despite the fact that the road has not always been easy, and as a result, it now has a special place among the institutions in the nation, despite the fact that it has not always been easy. Even today, the Museum still has part of the essence of the early natural history museum era, an essence that has been characterised as “incongruity formed by the enthusiastic spirit in the face of unfathomable occurrences.”
Weirdest museum of dinosaur technology.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a living love letter to the idea of what museums were and what they may still be. It has uncomfortably held the moniker “Strangest Museum in America” since it opened in the late 1980s.