Museum celebrates eclectic finds of past
Venice Boulevard, one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles, houses a flurry of restaurants, retail space and other attractions. But one place thatâs under the radar for even native Angelenos is a museum dedicated to a mostly unexplored era.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City offers a quirky look at unusual historical artifacts and relics, many of which feature âcurious technological qualities.â The museum contains pieces from a permanent collection and each section of the space centers around a theme. The locale does not charge an admission fee but suggests a donation of $3 for students and $5 as a general fee.
When visitors first enter, they can feast their eyes on everything from the skeleton of a mole to a display exploring the history of man-made gems. Most of the displays feature buttons that trigger an auditory explanation visitors listen to through vintage phones. The museum focuses on historical events as well, such as the writing of unusual letters to Mount Wilson Observatory when it first opened.
The museum also extensively utilizes videos and creatively designed displays. The most notable of these is the section dedicated to the life of opera singer Madelena Delani. The display reveals the life of a woman who dealt with memory issues, and the room holds photographs that light up in groups as the story of her life unravels through the speakers. Glass displays also include materials like the singerâs gloves and hair pieces.
The exhibit creates an interesting atmosphere and allows museum-goers to slow down and take in the intriguing story of the singer. The Delani/Sonnabend Halls explore her story in conjunction with that of Geoffrey Sonnabend, a neurophysiologist who wrote about memory. Together, the figuresâ stories create an intriguing look at memory through the ages.
Another portion of the museum, titled Lives of Perfect Creatures, reveals a room dedicated to the dogs of the Soviet space program that didnât make it back to Earth. The walls bear reproductions of portrait paintings of the dogs, complete with a small candle in front of Laika, the first to travel to space but also first to die from the voyage. The paintings seem eerie in a certain light but keep alive the memories of dogs that we might not even think about today in an era where space travel looks less fantastical.
The next room reveals a small theater with various videos rotating throughout the day. Visitors can walk into the quaint space and pick up a pair of glasses, which make the images on the screen semi-3-D. A small sign near the back indicates viewers to ask a tearoom assistant for help with the videos.
The tearoom proves a good spot for relaxation, meditation and any other forms of mental decompression. The roomâs low doorway, soft white curtains, candles and vases with flowers create a bright, mellow atmosphere very different from the rest of the museum. A friendly employee serves visitors tea and a small table holds cookies for visitors. The tea comes at no charge but a small bucket sits on the table for any generous visitors willing to tip.
A small flight of stairs leads tea-sippers to a small courtyard with large white material draped over the top, revealing bits of sky. The area, decorated with birds in cages, offers more seating to visitors. A small fountain decorates the center of the courtyard, and an arched doorway leads to a room with a long cage filled with even more birds. The entire area ends the visit to the museum but still invites the visitor to linger.
On the way out, you can also purchase trinkets from the museumâs gift shop. Contrary to the usual gift shops that hawk shirts and mugs emblazoned with a museumâs name or logo, the Museum of Jurassic Technology offers more than such overt souvenirs.
Kooky items, such as a music box that creates tunes with holes visitors punch in and commemorative matchboxes dedicated to the Soviet space programâs dogs, line the shelves and add a touch of curiosity and amusement to the end of the experience.
In the end, visitors can leave with new morsels of information and perhaps a new fascination with the past â but definitely a new area to sit and have a cup of tea.
Eva Recinos is a junior majoring in English. Her column âNook & Crannyâ runs Mondays.