Owner of Hackney’s weirdest museum Viktor Wynd wants a mummified human head
PUBLISHED: 15:01 11 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:17 11 October 2016
All Images Copyright Oskar Proctor 2013
You may have passed The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History in Mare Street and wondered what it was all about. The man himself is fundraising to add a mummified head to his collection, so the Gazette tried to unravel his story
“The one thing we haven’t got is a mummified head.”
Under normal circumstances that sentence would be weird, but when you interview Viktor Wynd such statements are ten-a-penny.
Viktor, as he said, wants a mummified head for The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History, a small unit in Mare Street he calls himself the chancellor of.
The museum is an homage to the 17th century cabinets of curiosities, or “wonder rooms”. It’s full to the brim with things you might have seen at a Victorian freakshow: shrunken heads, “mermaids”, giant’s bones, occult paintings and dead fish. You get the picture.
The only thing missing is a mummified head, because Viktor is jealous of the museums in Camden that have them.
To get one, he’s leapt forward a few centuries to the modern day and launched a £6,666 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. That’s how much he needs for the “absurdly beautiful 1,000-year-old mummified head of a young boy from The Chimú in Peru”.
“It’s coming from a private collection on the continent,” he told the Gazette. “There isn’t one in Hackney but Camden has dozens. People come in and say: ‘Have you got one?’ – and we haven’t, but we’d like one.”
What was called Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors became a museum two years ago thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, and attracts thousands of visitors every month for his intimate guided tours.
But Viktor is also a successful artist, poet, lecturer and author who in 2013 was the subject of a National Geographic documentary.
His masquerade balls attract 3,000 guests and he ran a popular nightclub around London for four years called Loss: An Evening of Exquisite Misery, where guests were invited to dress in “decaying beauty”, chop onions and cry.
Viktor plays the part well and keeps his cards close to his chest. When asked where he got the two-headed baby skeleton he sold to Jonathan Ross’s wife, he teased: “I got it from under my bed.”
When asked for a serious answer, he continued: “It’s the world I live in. They are everywhere. I can’t leave the front door without finding something wonderful. The whole world out there is filled with these sorts of things.”
He’s well spoken and clearly well travelled, but now calls Hackney his home and lives in Tudor Road, a stone’s throw from the museum.
He seems genuinely disappointed that not many people from Hackney go to his museum, claiming it’s mostly foreign tourists.
“It’s a bit of a shame,” he said. “We are on their doorstep.”
He does break character briefly to discuss his childhood in Muswell Hill. He said: “I used to bully my parents to take me to the Natural History Museum, which in the ’70s and ’80s was full of stuffed dead animals.
“My museum is supposed to be a reinterpretation of the traditional pre-enlightenment origins of a museum. It’s full of the strange wonders of the natural world.”
It is undoubtedly fascinating, and you can’t help think Viktor’s story is a Tim Burton film in the making. But he doesn’t really see it like that.
“Why does one person like any one thing?” he added. “I’m very interested in the natural world, and enlightenment made people think they could understand the world.
“There’s no real aim of the museum other than the theft of people’s time. I just try to present the world in a different way.”
If this sounds like your sort of thing, you can donate to the Hackney Needs a Mummy Now campaign at indiegogo.com. Anyone interested in visiting the museum can do so between noon and 10pm from Wednesday to Sunday.
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