Best Place to Learn a Creepy New Skill - 2013
Remember those kids in biology who were just a little too into pinning insects and dissecting small mammals? Well, they grew up and got their own place, and, my, is Observatory fascinating. Founded by eight artists and bloggers in 2009, this Gowanus institution has recently come of age with an inspired roster of lectures, classes, and programming in the vein of 18th-century "rational amusement." At Observatory, part of the Proteus Gowanus art complex, you can learn to stuff your own mouse (in the anthropomorphic or naturalistic style) with noted taxidermist Divya Anantharaman, or craft Victorian hair jewelry (B.Y.O. hair) as a keepsake for your lover. Lectures range in subject from the occult (spirit photography and Catholic reliquaries) to weird science (like the sordid history of the operating theater and contemporary biotech). No oddity is too odd in this project that aims to unveil "the interstices of art and science, history and curiosity, magic and nature." Events range in price from free to several hundred dollars, depending on supplies, but we've got to love a place where "Please do not bring any dead animals to class with you" is a standard part of the course description.