• Learning to Love Death: New Museum Takes a Walk on the Shadow Side Returning home from a dinner party one night, I wandered down 24th Street in San Francisco’s traditionally Mexican Mission District. I spied a store display lit up with flashing Christmas lights, and looking inside, I saw a life-size plastic skeleton with red lights for eyes. The skeleton was adorned with a fancy biblical robe and was holding a scythe and metal scale. It was flanked by several sma…
  • Mummies and Monkey Skulls: 'Oddities' Host Ryan Matthew Cohn on Creepy Antiques Halloween is the time of year when people reveal their most ghoulish fears and fantasies, decorating their houses with fake mummies, plastic skulls and skeletons, and eerie contorted faces carved into apples and pumpkins. But for a certain breed of collector, like artist Ryan Matthew Cohn (pictured above, in a photo by Sergio Royzen), this sort of decor is just not creepy enough. Such collectors w…
  • Taxidermy Comes Alive! On the Web, the Silver Screen, and in Your Living Room "Taxidermy is never a mundane science," Rachel Poliquin wrote in her 2009 essay, “Immortal Beauties,” on photographer Mary Frey's ongoing taxidermy ambrotype project "Imagining Fauna." "It is the queasy art of seeing what would not, should not, be seen. It is the art of extending animal form beyond its natural lifespan." Poliquin, a life-long taxidermy connoisseur and scholar from Vancouver, ta…
  • Tales from the Relic Zone: Dad’s Moose Head I work in "a relic zone." My father bought this building in 1961, and I have worked here permanently since 1963. There are 10,000 stories here, but most are forgotten. One relic story that stands out and will never be forgotten by me, though, concerns the moose head. When look at it, you see a dusty, gnarly moose head. What do I see? Picture a beautiful new trophy on the wall of our family cab…