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Brooklyn's Morbid Anatomy Museum delights in death but needs $75K to survive

After only two years institute of oddities in Gowanus could close without help.

Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum, the black corner building at Seventh Street and Third Avenue dedicated to the beauty of death, is having a hard time staying alive.

The museum opened two years ago with a full-bodied program of salon discussions, film and lecture series and quaint exhibitions such as “The Kittens’ Wedding” featuring Victorian-costumed taxidermied cats from the 1890s, as well as thepermanent exhibits of artifacts and preserved specimens. Despitecritical acclaim, the non-profit institute needs at least $75,000 to keeps its doors open through 2017.

A blog post and aYouTube videoappealing to patrons and enthusiasts of “death and beauty” asks for donations to pay the rent for the 4,200 square foot space and to carry on their popular programming.

“Let's face facts: there are not a lot of grant programs for 'death and beauty,'and there is no major philanthropic foundation dedicated to 'the celebration of artifacts, histories and ideas that fall between the cracks of high and low culture.'Our founders have been exceptionally generous in seeing us through the launch of this incredible experiment, but we need to build a stronger base of support from our community to continue our efforts,” it explained in a news release.

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The museum’s co-founder Joanna Ebenstein said she had become fascinated with creatures alive and dead as a girl —who would sometimes bring dead spiders to school to freak out her classmates. As a teen, she once brought home a dead owl and dissected it. Her father encouraged her interests by giving her a taxidermy kit.

"You know, a specimen in a jar is as interesting to me as a cat on my lap that's alive," Ebenstein told NPR.

Upcoming events at the Morbid Anatomy Exhibit include their holiday flea market on Sunday, a lecture on entertainer W.C. Fields on Monday, a private tour of their current featured exhibit "Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America" by the chief curator at the American Folk Art Museum on Dec. 15, and their Krampus Christmas party with costume contest on Dec. 16.

At the very least, they need the money to keep the admission ticket reasonable — $12 for general admission (seniors and students $10, and children under 12 are free), as “good press doesn’t pay the rent,” they said. They are seeking to develop a core membership and a broad base of funders, and because it is a charitable organization, they assure you that any donationis tax deductible.

 
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