Nestled in the rolling hills of the Ebbw Valley, in deepest darkest South Wales lies a truly fascinating, and I'm sure to many thoroughly unexpected Museum, in the shape of 'Morbitorium'.
This slice of suburbia has hidden within it a highly unusual gem, which few neighborhoods can boast. A museum and shop packed to the rafters with an overwhelming collection morbid and macabre curiosities.
The unassuming stone cottage, situated in a typical enough Welsh village, has been thoroughly transformed into an immediately outrageous, spooky, kooky landmark. As ghosts trussed up in the front yard billow and bluster with the savage winds rolling in from the mountains and a sign adorned with a skull creaks and groans, I have no doubt I have indeed found the Museum.
I am given a warm welcome to the museum by owner Dave and one of his cats Pickles. It appears that Pickles failed to get the message from every other member of their species that I am reviled by their kind, and now holds an interesting record of the only cat in my time on this Earth to show me nothing but interest and affection (despite my poorly masked terror waiting for the inevitable strike, which shockingly never came).
Dave gave me a brief run down of the museum, explaining he and his partner Angharad had moved to this sleepy little town 8 years ago, initially buying the adjoining cottage as their home, then later when the end building went on sale, it was purchased and transformed into the museum and shop we see today.
The building of the museum has been, like all the best things in life are, a thoroughly organic process. Starting out simply as a shelf, this collection of curios has grown to an impressive size, and contains many fascinating and noteworthy pieces.
From important artifacts from medical history to Masonic regalia and everything in between, the museum houses something for everyone (if you're as abnormal as myself!).
My personal highlights on display were the wonderful items concerning Aleister Crowley. Crowley has long fascinated me and I am always thrilled to see pieces and places relating to his life and works (some how I never got round to writing a blog on my visit to the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu). So to see these wonderful items, including Crowley's Thoth Tarot, a piece of Crowley's home Boleskine House (famously later purchased by Jimmy Page) and my absolute favorite; Crowley's death mask. Incredible. A real privilege to see such fine and important items on show.
One of the most wonderful displays at the museum is that of haunted Ouija boards, all of which have been gifted to the museum by folk who have clearly decided not to dabble any further. Everywhere the eye strays there is something new and interesting to see which ultimately is bound to spark a different emotive response in every single visitor. I peered in interest and curiosity at the display on house protection and mummified cats, while others may find it repugnant, and I confess a wry smile met my lips at the sight of a Rolf Harris annual, where others may have viewed it in the highest distaste. However taste is merely subjective and is clearly something Dave and Angharad are challenging, and enjoying playing with here.
Frankly the entire place is a real credit to its proprietors who have
obviously put so much time, dedication and love into creating this
carefully curated space. Every surface is packed full with so much, and covering so many topics, one could easily get lost in this place all day ...
One recurring theme within both the museum and shop is taxidermy. Dave himself actually teaches taxidermy classes, but also sells many specimens at the museum, from grandiose Ravens to simple skulls and mounted antlers. This very multifaceted place has so much to offer on so many levels.
The Morbitorium is a true testament to Dave and Angharad's obvious passion for the unusual. Their use of this compact but well concieved space to share with others this amazing collection of oddities, but also, incite in others wonder, interest, curiosity and perhaps even a passion of their own in a specific subject is to be applauded and celebrated utterly. There are few times in this world people take the brave decision to be truly different and stand out in their community. But it is clearly something which has been whole-heartedly embraced with the 'Morbitorium', and I for one wish to see a whole lot more of it in this world!
To check out the Morbitorium yourself, support this venture or plan your visit check out their website here!