A Dance for the Dead at Morbid Anatomy Library


Death becomes her could definitely describe Joanna Ebenstein, the curator of Morbid Anatomy Library. Ebenstein’s been sharing her collection of macabre artifacts and research books that celebrate both the beautiful and the obscure side of the afterlife since 2008 when she opened MAL by appointment only on Union Street in Gowanus. Unfortunately, a fire elsewhere in the warehouse last April subsequently caused water damage to her collection when the sprinkler system went off. Ebenstein is now attempting to breath new life into her library by hosting a resurrection gala Saturday night.

“We lost about 15 percent of our stuff,” says Ebenstein. “Everything that survived is in place and will be on view during the event.”

That includes wax casts of diseased body parts, taxidermied animals, images of amputated appendages and cabinets of curiosity containing collections of artistic, scientific and religious artifacts all dealing with death.

The gala begins at 8pm at Observatory and costs $25 to attend. Proceeds will go to building new custom, protective cabinets to house the collection. Food fortunately will not be served alongside the deceased ephemera, but free drinks will. A series of five minute “Odes to Material Culture” are planned, as well as a screening of the world premiere of Morbid Anatomy and Evan Michelson episodes of The Midnight Archive, directed by Ronni Thomas. In addition, a silent auction of morbid artwork will be awarded to the highest bidder, including works from Brooklyn artists: MTA Artist-in-Residence Sophie Blackall, Ryan Mathews of “Oddities,” anthropomorphic taxidermist Sue Jeiven, anthropomorphic insect shadowbox maker Daisy Tainton, museum-exhibit designer Christopher Muller, Shannon Taggart, Julia Solis, Justine Cooper, Saul Chernick, Laura Splan, Friese Undine, GF Newland and Eric Lindvelt.

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