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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Museum of Everyday Life

Brilliant Claire Dolan has, somewhere in "the northeast kingdom" of Vermont, turned her barn into an exquisite display of curatorial genius.  She calls it the Museum of Everyday Life and visitors are welcome to turn on the lights upon arrival and close up when they leave.
the toothbrush sculpture was just out of the frame, closer to the road
Our visit overlapped with another couple of folks. We quickly bonded over the experience, the communion of a unique side road attraction. They were giggling with glee and the exhibit took us in as well. It was instantly obvious that we were in the presence of something really special.
Let me preface that last years exhibition must have been of the toothbrush. There was a giant wood and steel sculpture of one outside, and a few donated prison shanks (with letters from the makers) still on display right as you entered the barn. The printed manifesto on the toothbrush, "an object we put in our mouths every day", is worthy of framing for our own bathroom when we get home.
The entry way had a wonderful mini show of matches and pencils.
a roller coaster made up of thousands of matchsticks

the erotic matchbook collection for those 21 years and older

The current exhibition, and one you should not miss, is DUST. According to Dolan's manifesto: Dust, "the most ubiquitous  substance.. coats every surface of our homes, congeals in our nasal passages, floats across continents, settles onto the ocean floors, and rains down from the sky as a diaphanous reminder of the origins of the cosmos. The Bible reminds us it is the start and the finish of everything, and science agrees." The exhibition was full of the profound and the poetic nature of our relationship to dust. The signage is stupendous: "Dust also marks our time. Its inexorable accumulations make visible the minutes and the hours and years. As our bodies age, we witness our own parts turn to dust, as joints grind away, teeth crack and wear, hair falls out and becomes brittle. Watching dust slowly circulate in a shaft of sunlight can be melancholy or transcendent, depending on the moment and the thoughts in our head. Maybe that is because dust is essential, a basic ingredient in everything."
The barn has a thorough collection on display: a giant paper mache sculpture of a dust mite, a nook with fans swirling dust under glass domes, an interactive dust drawing table, dust from Katmandu, the twin towers, the moon, a microscope with slides of navel dust, and many items donated from the community. (Later in the same day we happened to run into the woman who loaned her duster mop and a jar of dust collected by not cleaning her house for 4 months. "Now five", she said.)

The exhibition is a must see unless, of course, you suffer from Amathophobia.
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