Jurassic Lark

Reviews / by Erin Torneo /

A visit to LA's most peculiar museum.

Credit: Museum of Jurassic Technology

LOS ANGELES — Entering the dimly lit Museum of Jurassic Technology (MJT) from the bright, baked expanse of LA’s Venice Boulevard, you’ll have to adjust more than your eyes. Just as MJT’s storefront space provides a respite from the strip-malled Americana outside its doors, so is founder David Wilson’s intimate presentation of curios an antidote to modern museum-going. The anachronistic name is your first clue that nothing here is quite what it seems. Wandering through the maze of small rooms, there are several exhibits, each curated with seemingly appropriate seriousness (including mice carcasses on toast, once believed to be a cure for bed-wetting); the otherwise neglected also find a home at the MJT: Images made entirely of individual butterfly scales adorn the walls. The life cycle of a rainforest ant, becomes tragedy writ large in its vitrine, while the works of opera singer Madelena Delani and neurophysiologist Geoffrey Sonnabend are rescued from the annals of obscurity.

Upstairs, you’ll find more recent additions to the museum: a gallery of oil portraits in honor of the canine members of the Soviet space program flanks a 14-seat theater. Just beyond, there’s a sunny tearoom where they’ll offer you a complimentary cup—the perfect place to reflect on your day. And that’s exactly the point. MJT challenges the visitor to question the veracity of what they’ve seen; in doing so, it makes one consider the often-unchallenged institutional authority of traditional museums. You’ll leave compelled to research much of MJT’s collection—and be shocked to discover that the lines between fact and fiction may not be where you thought.

Originally published August 6, 2006

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