What’s a museum social media manager to do with no exhibitions on the horizon? The Yorkshire Museum recently put out a call on Twitter asking for museum experts to submit pictures of the creepiest objects in their collections. And things got weird—fast.
To kick things off, the UK museum posted a picture of a hair bun that belonged to a Roman woman in the 3rd or 4th centuries. It still has a pair of pins sticking out of it.
A fine effort, as far as ancient head buns go, but really it was grosser than it was unsettling. Then the ante was upped.
Museum professionals around the world responded with a series of esoterica that would make the creative director for a B-level horror movie jealous: a petrified sheep’s heart punctuated by nails, a blood-soaked doll with a missing eye, a severed leg turned into a deformed creature in desperate need of an orthodontist.
That was just the beginning. There’s a smiling executioner’s mask; a decapitated cat plucking a harp; and a mermaid diorama that will haunt you at a level so profound that you’ll rue the day you clicked on that dumb Artnet article.
The friendly competition was part of the Yorkshire Museum’s weekly #CURATORBATTLE series, which aims to connect institutions during lockdown. Previous installments included calls for the dullest, prettiest, and deadliest objects, as well as an Easter-themed search for the “best egg.”
The weeklong competition is just three days old, but already there’s enough material for several weeks’ worth nightmares. Here are some of the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) submissions.
— Natural Sciences NMS (@NatSciNMS) April 17, 2020
Thanks for thinking of us @HottyCouture and wow, will we be having nightmares tonight with all these #CreepiestObject|s ! Here is the one we just can’t hide from you, one of our many creepy gems – our Plague Mask (1650/1750)! #curatorbattle pic.twitter.com/JrMjqAJSIM
— Deutsches Historisches Museum (@DHMBerlin) April 17, 2020
— York Art Gallery (@YorkArtGallery) April 17, 2020
Live from the Toy Museum of Penshurst Place, we present the Drinking Bear. Feed it a 2 pence piece and it’ll pretend to drink from its cup as it stares into your soul. #CuratorBattle #CreepiestObject pic.twitter.com/ohNl2974UJ
— Penshurst Place (@PenshurstPlace) April 17, 2020
Turn the creep up to ? and check out this iron mask that was exhibited in the @TowerOfLondon as an Executioner’s Mask. However, due to its grotesque appearance, we think it’s more likely part of an elaborate scold’s bridle – an iron muzzle designed for public humiliation ? pic.twitter.com/1nG4mMZRex
— Royal Armouries (@Royal_Armouries) April 17, 2020
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, we present ….
— Egham Museum (@EghamMuseum) April 17, 2020
Can I offer up the 18th century diving suit from Raahe museum in Finland? pic.twitter.com/mP9FqB9uly
— Chris Beresford (@OuluRover) April 17, 2020
@RedHeadedAli how can we ignore such a call to arms?
This particular item has caused a few nightmares for our followers this week.
— Norwich Castle (@NorwichCastle) April 17, 2020
Sheep’s heart stuck with pins and nails and strung on a loop of cord. Made in South Devon, circa 1911, “for breaking evil spells”, @Pitt_Rivers collections #CreepiestObject #CuratorBattle pic.twitter.com/z5vdCFCU4S
— Dan Hicks (@profdanhicks) April 17, 2020
Bringin’ our A-game for this #CURATORBATTLE! What is it? Just a CURSED CHILDREN’S TOY that we found inside the walls of a 155-year-old mansion. We call it “Wheelie” – and it MOVES ON ITS OWN: Staff put it in one place and find it in another spot later on…. #Creepiestobject pic.twitter.com/FQzMzacr8a
— PEI Museum (@PEIMuseum) April 17, 2020
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