Liza Young (MLS’15) undertook a research opportunity while working with the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn this summer. Liza began working with the museum for an Academic Service-Learning project for Dr. Angel’s Museum Informatics course. As a result of this project, Liza has been extended an open invitation to participate in future projects as wells as continuing guest blog posts for the Museum by the Creative Director, Joanna Ebenstein.
Joanna Ebenstein, Creative Director of the Morbid Anatomy Museum, founded the museum and library in 2008. The Morbid Anatomy Museum describes itself as, “a non-profit institution dedicated to the celebration and exhibition of artifacts, histories and ideas which fall between the cracks of high and low culture, death and beauty, and disciplinary divides.” The museum offers unique temporary exhibits and highly popular lecture series and workshops. It also boasts of a substantial research library containing a wide array of peculiar materials.
The article chronicles Liza’s quest to ascertain the history of a 19th century plaster phrenological death mask recently acquired by the museum with the Museum Head Librarian, Laetitia Barbier. With eloquence, Liza details her initial reaction to the study of the mask and reveals the process of her research in three sections. She begins with the history of the pseudoscience phrenology. The second section, entitled “Part Two: Heritage of the Headless” consists of further examination of the mask itself, from which Liza attempts to draw conclusions about its origins. Lastly she reveals information about the possible mask creator.
Liza’s research resulted in numerous unanswered questions and dead ends. With the knowledge and skill of Laetitia, head librarian, some new leads to information were uncovered. This is a continued project, as more work is needed to achieve concrete conclusions about the history, creation and use of this mask.
Read Liza’s full guest post on the Morbid Anatomy Blog here