Our favorite quirky library dedicated to the arcane, the bizarre and the morbid is outgrowing its space in Gowanus and hoping to expand. The Morbid Anatomy Library may be known for its collection of antique medical models and pickled baby animals in jars, but it has the potential to be much more.
The library’s organizers want to expand it into a full-fledged museum, complete with a café, gift shop, rotating exhibition space and residencies for artists and scholars from all over the world who will come here to study obscure topics. The library’s blog explains, “The Morbid Anatomy Museum will be full-fledged non-profit institutions dedicated to the arcane, the uncanny, and that which falls between the cracks of discussion and display. It will take as its inspiration 19th century anatomical museums, eccentric private collections, dime museums and the studies of gentleman collectors.” (more…)
Recently, we took you inside the music shop Retrofret in Gowanus which specializes in rare and bizarre instruments. What we didn’t share with you yet is that one floor below, connected to Retrofret is an organ workshop! The shop not only repairs organs for such venerable churches as Trinity Wall Street and St. Thomas on 5th Avenue and 53rd Street, but used to build them from scratch too.
RetroFret, a music shop in Gowanus, Brooklyn specializing in “rare and bizarre instruments,” is a true discovery even before you enter the store. You’d never guess that the hodgepodge block Retrofret is located houses such a rich collection of historic instruments. To get to the shop, located at 233 Butler Street, you have to ring the buzzer to the building, go up a flight of stairs, cross over a rooftop lit with lights and head for the inviting building across the way.
Music venues can play a dynamic role in the neighborhood they are located in. Many music venues in New York City have a prior history as bodegas, factories, stores, printing press and more, and were repurposed for live music. As you read through the quirky history of these spots, think about the changing atmospheres of the neighborhoods they’re in. Have the venues changed the place, or has the place inspired the venues?
1. Arlene’s Grocery
Located at 95 Stanton Street, this venue was actually once a grocery store. Arlene’s Grocery took over a Puerto Rican Bodega and the butcher shop next door to become the two room music venue it is today. Arlene’s grocery featured bands such as The Strokes and the Bravery during its heyday. It now devotes itself to unsigned indie bands and Karaoke Fridays. We happened to walk in during their CMJ party, and we stumbled in to a free performance by Ski Lodge - check them out!
Here’s what the Untapped staff has been enjoying this week (along with the crisper October temperatures).
Ever wondered what would happen if you threw caution into the wind and actually drank water from the Gowanus canal? So has Dan Nosowitz of Popular Science. Despite its location in the now-blooming Gowanus neighborhood, the canal itself is still one of America’s most polluted waterways. According to Nosowitz’s exposé, if you take a drink (not recommended), anticipate a very high risk of developing dysentery, cancer, and arsenic poisoning. Read the full article here.
Tomorrow evening, Elastic City will host an event guided by artist and librarian Andrew Beccone to explore the relationship of a small independent library, Reanimation Library, to its Brooklyn neighborhood, Gowanus. Beccone is the founder of The Reanimation Library, a library with a collection of books noted for their visual content that have fallen out of mainstream circulation. Elastic City is a non-profit arts organization based in Brooklyn that commissions both well-known and emerging artists to create participatory walks, some which explicitly engage participants in how to generate poetic moments in public space.