Still Minding our Domestic Manners: A Shocking Display

infernalregionsHow do we get the Museum Center to re-create exactly the following exhibit from one of its predecessors as described by Frances Trollope? Their Shocktober exhibit left out the best part.

“Cincinnati has not many lions to boast, but among them are two museums of natural history; both of these contain many respectable specimens, particularly that of Mr. Dorfeuille, who has, moreover, some highly interesting Indian antiquities. He is a man of taste and science, but a collection formed strictly according to their dictates, would by no means satisfy the western metropolis. The people have a most extravagant passion for wax figures, and the two museums vie with each other in displaying specimens of this barbarous branch of art. As Mr. Dorfeuille cannot trust to his science for attracting the citizens, he has put his ingenuity into requisition, and this has proved to him the surer aid of the two. He has constructed a pandaemonium in an upper story of his museum, in which he has congregated all the images of horror that his fertile fancy could devise; dwarfs that by machinery grow into giants before the eyes of the spectator; imps of ebony with eyes of flame; monstrous reptiles devouring youth and beauty; lakes of fire and mountains of ice ; in short, wax, paint and springs have done wonders. ‘To give the scheme some more effect’ he makes it visible only through a grate of massive iron bars, among which are arranged wires connected with an electrical machine in a neighbouring chamber; should any daring hand or foot obtrude itself within the bars, it receives a smart shock, that often passes through many of the crowd, and the cause being unknown, the effect is exceedingly comic; terror astonishment, curiosity, are all set in action, and all contribute to make Dorfeuille’s Hell’ one of the most amusing exhibitions imaginable.”

What better way to deal with bratty young visitors than a few volts of DC? We may electrify our Nourse materials.

-Nemo Wolfe

Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 1:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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