The much-beloved Brooklyn purveyor of the macabre, Morbid Anatomy, is back.
After its closing in 2017 due to mounting financial stress, the museum and library, which housed odd curiosities and anatomy books and hosted talks about mortality, left a taxidermied squirrel-shaped hole for those who love the stranger side of life.
But now, thanks to a new residency at Green-Wood cemetery, its wares are on display in a new exhibit featuring its own ephemera as well as the cemetery’s own art collection — and at no cost to the public.
“The Power of Images: Life, Death and Rebirth,” will show off artifacts from Morbid Anatomy and from other oddity collectors (the staple taxidermied animals, a Masonic banner with death symbols, photographs of spiritualists and ectoplasm, coffin plates, a colorful painting of the apocalypse that dominates the first room you enter into) to present how certain images have power over us, even in this “rational age,” according to Morbid Anatomy founder Joanna Ebenstein.
It also will feature artwork by the residents (the interred) of Green-Wood Cemetery. Its staff has identified and collected more than 400 artworks, many forgotten by history, by those buried there, according to Harry Weil, Green-Wood’s program manager.
One such artist is Gabriel Harrison, whose “Moonlit Ocean” depicts a darker, moodier landscape. Until now, these paintings and drawings have been sitting in Green-Wood’s archives and hanging on office walls.
The cemetery’s Fort Hamilton Gatehouse, a “dollhouse”-like mini-mansion with mosaic floors and stained glass built in 1877, is where the collaboration is taking place, and it exudes the perfect ambience to connect with the concept of death, according to Ebenstein.
“It’s a lot more informal because we’re not charging admission and paying so much rent,” she said. “Shows became more like those at a traditional museum. This gallery is more playful and loose, and keeping more in the way of how we look at the relationship between art and artifacts and life and death.”
People are welcome to stay as long as they want in the archives/library and enjoy getting away to one of the most intriguing and beautiful places in the city. The Gatehouse has been used as a restful place for people on their way to and from the cemetery over the course of its existence, Weil said.
“It was a serendipitous thing,” he said about the Morbid Anatomy residency. “What’s happening now is that Green-Wood is evolving as a cultural institution, and Morbid Anatomy is evolving, too.”
The exhibition and library will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. from March 31 to June 24. Check green-wood.com for upcoming programs.