WHAT IS THIS THING? Mystery museum object #1

Picture of a mysterious pear shaped metal object from Salzburg Fortress (choke pear)WHAT IS THIS THING? Inspired by a mystery object tweeted by one of my favorite websites, Collectors Weekly, I’ve decided to make a little game out of some of my own ridiculously interesting MYSTERY MUSEUM OBJECTS. Try to guess what this strange thing is before scrolling down for the answer!

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Katzenklavier: The Cat-Piano

Illustration of a cat piano, from La Nature (1883)

Illustration of a cat-organ, from La Nature (1883). Image via Messy Beast.

When I was a kid, my weird and wonderful mother used to amuse us by picking up the cat and pretending to play it like a bagpipe, using its tail as a mouthpiece. Her improvised feline instrument has, sadly, been upstaged by my discovery of the Katzenklavier, a Cat-Piano (also known as a cat organ) dreamed up in the 16th century.  Continue reading

Cleaning the elephant skin

Museum staff cleaning an elephant skin at the American Museum of Natural History, June 1933.

Museum staff cleaning an elephant skin at the American Museum of Natural History, June 1933. Image: Thane L. Bierwert, via the archives of the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Museum staff cleaning an elephant skin at the American Museum of Natural History, June 1933.

Museum staff cleaning the skin of an elephant at the American Museum of Natural History, June 1933. Image: Thane L. Bierwert, via the archives of the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

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Three ridiculously interesting photographs from the history of art

Pablo Picasso wearing a bull's mask.

The models of American Gothic pose with Grant Wood's iconic painting.

Models for Grant Woods’ ‘American Gothic’ (1930) posed with painting. Via Twenty Two Words.

Robert Cornelius, the first photography self portrait.

Daguerreotype of Robert Cornelius, likely the first photographic self-portrait ever taken, c 1839. Via American Library of Congress.

These three intriguing photographs have no real relationship with one another, except that each image reveals a little bit of the hidden history of art. Read on for more about these remarkable images. Continue reading