When you have a collection as large as Glenbow’s, you just know there’s bound to be a few strange things in there. Macabre, even. Yet, there’s a real artistry to some of these objects, such as the painstakingly intricate weave of a Victorian-era human hair wreath or the subtle variations of tint and detail in our collection of glass eyes. In the spirit of the season, our Cultural History Collections Technician, Marcia Slater, gives us a tour of some of the more spine-tingling items in our cavernous storage area.
[Word of warning: if you’re a bit squeamish, you might want to skip the first two videos, which, while not graphic, pertain to mortuary practices.]
Death Makes a House Call
You really wouldn’t have wanted to have been the customer of the person packing this kit! But, if you need some wound filler or extra internal organ storage, we’ve got you covered. The kit dates from the 1920s.
Table for One
If there’s one object in our storage that belongs in a horror movie, it’s this early 20th century autopsy table. Can’t you just picture it creaking down the dilapidated corridor of an abandoned hospital — with no one wheeling it along… Yikes!
Eye On You
Glenbow came by its rather impressive glass eyeball collection by way of The Horseman’s Hall of Fame. When that museum closed in 1975, its collection was transferred here. Apparently, the Hall used the eyes in mannequin displays, but these prosthetic peepers, which date back to the Victorian era, were designed for use by living patients.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Another curio courtesy of the Victorians. These kinds of wreaths, constructed from human hair, were often used as memorials to the deceased.
We thought we’d end things off on a lighter note with these fab Halloween decorations, including some absolutely exquisite paper pieces made in post First World War Germany.
Happy Halloween everyone!