Saturday 13 June 2009

In search of the Eden Musee

I first came across the Eden Musee while reading Andrea Stullman Dennett's, Wierd and Wonderful, The Dime Museums of America published by New York University Press.

The Eden Musee opened in New York around 1883 and at the time was the equivalent of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London. After a very long search I managed to purchase several of the old catalogues (the oldest is late 1800's). The catalogue above is from September 1905.

The intention of the Musee was to create a Temple of Art. It was filled with tableaux of icy solitudes, the burning sun of Africa as well as figures of distinguished persons, rulers, artists and scientists of the time. The Musee stood on 23rd Street between fifth and sixth avenues for nearly thirty years before closing its doors for the last time in 1915 - a sign of changing times. The collection from the Musee was then moved to Coney Island before it was completely destroyed in a fire in February 1932.
Almost 100 years later, on a recent visit to New York I managed to track down where the old Eden Musee had stood. It was quite a task to find the old site as numbers on buildings and the buildings themselves had changed over time, but below is where I believe it had been.

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