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Monday, May 7, 2018

Southern California Vol. 21 - The Museum of Jurassic Technology

For the next few weeks, I’m going to focus on some little known or out of the way museums that visitors to SoCal should check out.   The truth is, while we have some fantastic , big name museums like the L.A. Museum of Natural History, L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art, The Getty Museum and Getty Villa as well as all of the museums in Balboa Park in San Diego, there are a handful of smaller, odd museums that do just as much if not more to capture the imagination.
Before I get into that though, let’s talk about museums for a moment.  When we think of museums today, we think of places where knowledge is kept and catalogued.  We think of dinosaur bones, displays explaining atomic energy or planetariums.  However, the modern museum is much different than how things started.  The earliest museums were collections gathered by nobles or the wealthy.  We’re talking about the sixteenth century here and what became known as a Cabinet of Curiosities. 

So imagine you’ve been invited to a nobleman’s house one evening to view his cabinet.  There, in the dark corridors, you’d be taking in the collection by oil lamp or candle.  It would make the experience much more mysterious.  Instead of bright lights on a bleached white animal skull, you’d see shadows in the eye sockets and flickering light skittering across the cracks in its cranium.  It would make you wonder what other mysteries are hidden out there waiting to be discovered!

It kind of makes you want to travel back in time and experience that for yourself, doesn’t it? 
Well, you can get close by visiting the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles.  The museum houses a multitude of curiosities and (true to its name) displays of forgotten scientific endeavors. 

You can see microminiature sculptures, like Goofy sculpted onto the eye of a needle. 

You’ll see this gorgeous Divination Table, displays about the dogs of the Russian Space Program and much, much more, but don’t confuse this with going to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum.  Those places don’t hold a candle to the experience you’ll have here.  There are ten exhibit rooms in the bottom floor and more upstairs.  There’s also a Russian Tea Room and a  rooftop garden where you can get tea from a coal-fired samovar and enjoy the atmosphere.

One thing to note, if you’re the type who likes to get selfies everywhere you go, don’t plan on getting a bunch while visiting.  Taking pictures and even texting are not allowed inside.  Everything you see in this post was graciously provided by the Museum itself and I’m not complaining one bit.  The whole purpose of this museum is to recreate that age of darkness and mystery.  Nothing would ruin that faster than blue light from a cell phone screen.

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