Shrunken heads, narwhal tusks, anteater skeletons, taxidermied flamingoes, hydrocephalic cows, Victorian fetuses, Furbies, a giant hairball from a cow’s stomach, Napoleon’s death mask, dodo bird bones, jars of the excrement of celebrities (including Amy Winehouse and Kylie Minogue): these are just a few of the uncanny and beautiful oddities on view at the Viktor Wynd Museum in East London, arranged like a massive 17th-century Wunderkabinett. It’s stuffed to the gills with objects the eccentric aesthete and self-proclaimed dandy has hoarded over the years.
Now, this macabre collection is showcased in Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders, a new book from Prestel. “Rare and beautiful things are the barrier between me and a bottomless pit of misery and despair, my only defense against the world outside,” Wynd writes of his collection.
Wynd opened his Little Shop of Horrors, a curiosity museum (or “living, breathing sculpture,” as he calls it), in Hackney, East London, in 2009. The museum “was originally meant as a joke,” Wynd writes. “I found the idea that I was a collector quite silly.” But five years later, Wynd considers collecting a true art form–“Our palette is everything ownable and our canvas is wherever we choose to put it,” he writes. It’s also “a burden and a sickness. Each piece provides a distraction from the reality of a life I do not like.”
When he’s not at the museum, Wynd lives in an overflowing house-museum he calls Fantasy Wyndworld, kept company by exotic pets, including Gilbert, an African pygmy hedgehog; Jane, a Chilean rose tarantula; and Delilah, a 6-foot-long Colombian red-tailed boa constrictor that slithers loose in the bedroom. “Collecting is an infectious disease,” Wynd reiterates–but if it’s one you wish to contract, he offers a whole chapter of advice on how to start.”If you do not know what you want to collect, then allow things to sing to you,” he writes. “They will find you, not the other way around.”
Click the slide show above for wondrous images from Viktor Wynd’s world, from his Cabinet of Death to taxidermied sloths.
Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders is available from Prestel for $45.