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Thursday, 13 January 2011

devils' museum, kaunas



(Oh, you'll want to turn the volume off on the YouTube clip, by the way...)

I'm pretty sure that the Devils' Museum in Kaunas wasn't in my Baltic States guidebook when I visited Lithuania in 2005, but I do know I went to Kaunas to visit the museum celebrating the town's best-known son, Georges Maciunas, the founder of the Fluxus movement that delighted in mainly New York-based and dada-inspired art mischief in the 60s. So maybe it's best I remember happening across it while in town for the day and trying to figure out what to do next to escape the constant pouring rain before I headed back to Vilnius by train. I do remember cursing silently for forgetting my camera, but I still remember three floors crammed full of devil-related arcana from around the world. There were cheeky devils on bicycles and scary African devil masks, devil smoking pipes and Slavic wood carvings, Hitler and Stalin as devils and alcohol and playing cards-related devils, all from the collection of one man, a pretty nice-looking old gentleman with a beard pictured at the entrance as I remember, who'd set the museum up in the mid-60s. You could also bring your own devil to the collection too, and though I'm sure there must be some kind of kitsch Scottish wee devil in a kilt I could've found, I didn't know this at the time. You can fly direct to Kaunas now, it seems, so hopefully they've got some new additions to the collection, but it was quite overwhelming as it was, being alone with all those Lucifers big and small, in towering black and red glass cabinets, art and folk myth and popular culture together in such a small and understated place. All the more unnerving for the lack of chamber of horrors gimmicks. Look it up, or if you can, go there. I've gotta say it, it's hellishly good.

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