Edward Gorey’s Cabinet of Curiosities
The 2017 Edward Gorey House Exhibit
In the years that Edward Gorey resided and worked in his Yarmouth Port house he filled it with a vast menagerie of objects, objects that he found interesting. In addition to being the creator of over a hundred self-authored and illustrated works like The Doubtful Guest and The Gashlycrumb Tinies, a prolific illustrator for other author's works, a renowned set and costume designer (winning a Tony award for the Broadway production of "Edward Goreys Dracula") and the artist behind the PBS Mystery! animated intros, Edward Gorey was also a collector, a serious collector, though in a casual way.
Our 2017 exhibit showcases a small fraction of Gorey's assembled objects ranging from fine lithographs to yard sale art, from antiquities to roadside oddities, as well as toys, rocks, tools and, of course books. Gorey found almost everything interesting if they possessed character, or a previous owners character, or displayed the Wabi-sabi of the alluring damage wrought by time.
Perhaps the euphoria of having finally settled into a large space of his own stoked Goreys collecting habits or, intentionally or not, maybe he was following in the tradition of 15th Century European nobles and well-heeled scholars in recreating a Wunderkammer.
A precursor to our idea of a modern day museum, a Wunderkammer (or a Cabinet of Wonders, or a Cabinet of Curiosities) offered a wildly uncategorized selection of natural objects, antiquities, oddities, mechanical devices, and rare texts — all highly idiosyncratic representations of the pre-scientific world at that time. Appearing in Italy in the late 1500s, the Wunderkammer spread across Europe, England and even to the New World, lasting in one form or another well into the 19th century and beyond (as exemplified in Barnum & Bailey traveling shows and carnival freak attractions).
Our 2017 exhibit is not a recreation of how this house looked when Gorey lived here, there would not be room for visitors and space did not allow for the display of dishware, fabrics, albums, videos, or Agatha Christie paperbacks. Instead we settled on a somewhat selective arrangement of objects presented here in the unscholarly guise of a Cabinet of Curiosities. Presumably, these are objects that brought him joy. Potato mashers, graters (both Lesser and Greater graters), elephants, frogs, relics and near-relics it is a subjective and slim representation of Gorey's worldview, but may offer a tiny insight into what fueled and stimulated his imagination.
The Edward Gorey House gratefully acknowledges the following folks for their generous loan of materials and assistance for our 2017 exhibit: Andreas Brown and the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, Rick Jones, Kevin McDermott, Ken Morton, Eleanor Garvey, James Edwards, Helen Ponds and Mel and Alex Schierman. Illustrations are courtesy of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust. Photography courtesy of James Edwards.
2017 Hours for the Edward Gorey House:
April 15 to July 2: Thu/Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm
July 5 to Oct 8: Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm
Oct 13 to Dec 31: Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm