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Museum of Fear and Wonder
Museum of Fear and Wonder

Alberta’s Museum Of Fear And Wonder Will Haunt You With Stories of the Unexplained

The museum’s many oddities will send a shiver down your spine and have your mind racing

The term “emotionally complicated” sums up the modern dating scene. 

Still, it is also used to describe the many eerie artifacts at the Museum of Fear and Wonder near Bergen. 

Located about an hour north of Calgary, the museum replaces the unordinary with the extraordinary. 

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t just affect people – it destroyed businesses, including museums. 

A United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization survey found that over 40 percent of Canadian museums closed in the first quarter of 2021. 

Eager to revive the dying art of rural museums, Brendan and Jude Griebel created the Museum of Fear and Wonder

The Griebel brothers’ museum isn’t any ordinary museum. Their collection of objects on display is meant to speak directly to themes of human experience, identity, and myth-making. 

The museum doesn’t use cheap tricks or jumpscares to startle its guests. Instead, the museum uses an assortment of oddities to make people feel uneasy or unsettled.  

From disembodied doll heads to slabs of artificial meat, the Museum of Fear and Wonder doesn’t want you to jump out of your skin but crawl in it. 

Did that doll look at me? Did that artificial heart just beat? Did that painting move? The Griebels hope visitors will ask themselves these questions while at the museum.

The museum’s purpose is not just to be observed but to be experienced. It invites visitors to craft their own narratives, drawing from each object’s rich history. 

A Mind Of Their Own

The Museum of Fear and Wonder’s collections are in a perpetual state of flux, akin to a transient abode for the peculiar and enigmatic. Among its most alluring inhabitants is a life-sized doll, Kiddo, shrouded in a veil of mystery.

The doll is the same height as a child and weighs about the same. Her fingernails and eyelashes are made of leather…presumably.  

If that wasn’t creepy enough, the leather over her mouth splits apart when the weather is dry enough to reveal real human teeth. Yikes!

Kiddo the life-sized doll (left) | Crystal | Wandering Crystal
Kiddo the life-sized doll (left) | Crystal | Wandering Crystal

She was handcrafted by a father in Texas in the 1930s, who made the doll for his kids. Kiddo was passed down through generations until it was bought by popular YouTuber grav3yardgirl

She returned the doll to its owners after a series of unexplainable and creepy incidents in her life. 

Another owner, spooked by the doll’s inexplicable habit of changing places in the house, returned Kiddo out of fear. The doll’s journey continued, eventually leading it to the eerie confines of the Museum of Fear and Wonder

The doll’s existence raises several questions. Where or how did the father get natural human teeth? How was the doll able to move on its own? 

Other oddities at the museum include a dollhouse made in the Appalachian Mountains that is haunted by a little girl and a chessboard handcrafted by a death row inmate in 1970s Louisiana. 

The museum’s current collections are Care and Wear, Residue, and You Are What You Eat. The You Are What You Eat collection captures “the marriage of food and anatomical technologies.”

The collection features handcrafted models of meat. Like a butcher shop without labels, the gallery will have you guessing where the meat comes from. Is your right arm still attached? 

The Griebel brothers' Care and Wear collection on display at the Esker Foundation in Calgary
The Griebel brothers’ Care and Wear collection on display at the Esker Foundation in Calgary | Esker Foundation

A Gateway To The Uncanny 

It is often believed that places tied to death, like hospitals and graveyards, are gateways to the underworld. 

It might be a good time to mention that the Museum of Fear and Wonder is a repurposed World War II barrack. 

An early 20th century pedalling automaton | @museumoffearandwonder | Instagram

As the war raged on, soldiers found themselves in the harsh reality of the frontline, often sleeping out in the trenches or foxholes. However, many of these brave souls never had the chance to return to their barracks. 

Could these soldiers return to the barracks turned museum in the afterlife? Unless you know what you’re looking for, finding the museum is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. 

There are no signs to help you find the building; it simply doesn’t exist on Google Maps

The museum is open to the public every summer between June 1 and August 30.

The building is shared with a private residence, so visits must be made by appointment using the museum’s website

Appointments allow the museum to create personalized experiences for visitors and offer guided tours of the museum’s collections. 

Admission to the Museum of Fear and Wonder is a rare gift, completely free, a testament to the Griebels’ commitment to the extraordinary. 

If your curiosity is piqued and you’re eager to visit the museum, we have some news for you. The Museum of Fear and Wonder is in high demand, with all slots fully booked for the 2024 summer season. 

Shortly, the Griebels hope to “host-guest academics and curators, allowing them the space and isolation to write and reflect on human relationships to the world of possessions.”

If you have an active imagination, the Museum of Fear and Wonder is a nightmare worth having. 

If thrills aren’t your thing, why not confront your fear in an environment without worrying about cheap scares?

We dare you!

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