When you think about crowdfunding, you probably think of, perhaps, a tech-startup, or maybe a new invention. One thing that surely doesn’t come to mind is a mummified head – unless you’re Viktor Wynd.
Wynd, the eccentric owner of the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities in Hackney, has turned to the online community to help him acquire a thousand-year-old mummified head from Peru for the museum.
The museum, situated in the Last Tuesday Society on Mare Street, already boasts an eerily-fascinating array of “curiosities” – the British museum may have the Rosetta Stone, but Wynd has a bag of Russell Brand’s pubic hair.
But beyond the shrunken heads and two-headed goats, Wynd has his sights firmly set on this mummified head.
So upon visiting the museum myself, the question to ask Wynd was: why?
“Well, we haven’t got a mummified head,” he said, in a surprisingly blasé fashion.
“We want to be that classic kind of pre-Enlightenment ‘Wunderkabinett’ – we have dodo bones, shrunken heads and all sorts of treasures, but we don’t have a mummy.
“It’s something I feel is missing from our collection and it’s not the sort of thing you can just get from IKEA.”
The Museum of Curiosities set up a campaign on Indiegogo, aiming to raise an unquestionably intentional sum of £6,666, in order to buy “an exceptionally fine and absurdly beautiful” mummified head of a young boy, originally part of the Chimú people in Peru.
According to Wynd, the campaign has generally been received positively by the public, though there are some that do not share the same perspective as Wynd:
“We’ve had a lot of support – but we have had a few emails from people who don’t think human remains should be bought or sold. And they’re entitled to their opinion.
“Some people may think it’s odd to crowdfund for a mummy; that it’s disrespectful to the dead. I think the dead need a certain amount of respect but I don’t think it’s disrespectful.
“There have been human remains for as long as there have been humans.”
Wynd’s demeanour was fascinating – like something out of a Tim Burton movie – and his enthusiasm for his “Wunderkabintett” was strong as he walked through the morbid menagerie.
“The items have to sing – they all tell stories and all sing different songs,” Wynd said, as he gazed at three shrunken heads in jars.
“When I first opened the museum, we didn’t have labels on anything – what we wanted was for the guests to tell their own stories about what they see. But I decided people like to have some information – give them the start of the story here and let them do the rest.”
Wynd’s pre-Enlightenment sentiments are apparent in the museum’s often mythical descriptions of its specimens – an elephant skull is a “cyclops skull” and “real fairies” dance in the cabinets.
As Wynd says: “It’s the wonders of the natural world, without attempting to necessarily classify them.”
One obvious question for Wynd was: how did he find these bizarre, yet intriguing objects.
“You follow your nose, don’t you?
“Most of these things; no one else wants them. Our mummified cat was bricked up in someone’s house in Suffolk, and they didn’t want it. But once it’s been framed I think it’s quite appealing.”
Wynd’s nose has certainly allowed him to unearth some truly marvellous curiosities – the gold-plated skull of one of Pablo Escobar’s infamous hippos sits opposite French erotica from the early-20th Century. And Wynd’s determination to add a mummified head to the collection became all the more understandable.
But if Wynd does get ahold of this mummified head then what next?
“I guess we’ll just have a drink first,” he chuckled.
“But I’ll always keep looking for the next curiosity.”
So would Wynd be interested in having his body preserved in the same way as many of his specimens? His answer is not what you’d expect.
“I have pretensions to immortality so it’s not something that’s crossed my mind. It’s more relevant to talk about where you’re going to be buried because I’m not going to die.”
Wynd is certainly an interesting character to say the least. His cabinet of the weird offers a chance to see things not as they really are, but as you see them to be. And it is this subjectivity that separates it from other museums.
So if you feel that Hackney is in dire need of its own mummified head you can donate to The Vicktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities’ crowdfunding page on Indiegogo.