Monday, October 29, 2007


For some reason this sticks out as one of my favorite things we saw on our trip. It was a little museum in South Dakota dedicated to wood carving. While the name of the museum implies the exhibits are about woodcarving in general, it was really about one man and his creations.

We were (surprise) the only visitors to the museum at the time. A very nice lady led us into a room with carpeted benches to sit on while we watched a video about the museum and about wood carving. It was a very long and mumbly video with a painfully low production value. We wanted to get up and leave but it was just too awkward with curator lady hanging around nearby. We didn't want to hurt her feelings.

After the video, we walked into a big room which was the museum itself. It was filled with automatons. I LOVE automatons. I have ever since I was a little kid and I was obsessed with The Carousel of Progress. I especially love the life-size ones. Of course, this being a wood-carving museum, all of the automatons were made of wood which made them pretty creepy. Here are some pics:

There was a fake book displayed which gave the story of the man who created all of these wood carvings. The display had been amended when someone took a permanent black marker and wrote at the bottom of the display that that the artist died in 1966. Sort of an unceremonious “PS- He’s dead now”

Especially interesting to me was this Native American Couple. First is the puzzling sign “Works when breathing”. The sign made no sense to me until after I pushed the button and the woman’s breasts heave up and down loudly. Clearly an asthmatic automaton.

Also deeply puzzling (and disturbing) is the insistence that these guys “love kids”. In fact, that initiation video we had to watch before entering this museum also talked about this display and specifically said these automatons love children.

They may love children (so long as children do not touch or interact with them in any way) but I can promise you that children do not necessarily return that emotion. I’m looking at a tall glass of nightmare juice here.

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