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Scary mermaids, cursed toys and mummified cats… Curator battle started by Yorkshire Museum goes global in bid to find creepiest objects

DATE: 21 April 2020

Some of the creepiest objects you will ever see have been submitted by museums and museum visitors from around the world after a Yorkshire Museum’s Tweet went viral.

Since it has been closed because of COVID-19, the Yorkshire Museum in York has launched a weekly #curatorbattle to challenge museums and visitors to put forward objects related to a particular theme.

Last Friday, the theme was #creepiestobject which has now been engaged with more than 220,000 times, with museums from Germany, France, Canada and the USA jumping on board to show off their objects – with horrifying results.

Objects include taxidermy “mermaids”, Victorian crab claws playing cards, cursed children’s toys and of course, dolls…

The Tweet thread can be seen here >


Millicent Carroll, digital engagement officer for the Trust, said: “The curator battle has been gradually building as more and more museums and the general public look at our Twitter feed every Friday to see what theme we’re going to pitch. Last week’s “Best Egg” had replies from the Hermitage in Russia and the American Museum of National History, but the creepiest object has taken it to another level!

“It is great for us and other museums to be able to still share our collections with the public when our doors are closed – we just hope we haven’t given anyone any nightmares!”

The Yorkshire Museum started off the thread with one of their creepy objects, a 2,000 year old bun of real hair found in a grave of a Roman lady buried in York. So far the Tweet has had 5,000 likes and 2,000 retweets and the Yorkshire Museum has gained 1,000 followers in a weekend.

Replies have come from the German History Museum, Oshawa Museum in Ontario, Canada, the New York Historical Society and America’s first museum  – the Charleston Museum. It has also been popular in the UK, with museums such as the Imperial War Museum, Bank of England Museum, curators from the National History Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and many Yorkshire museums getting involved.

To follow the next curator battle, check the Yorkshire Museum Twitter feed on Friday morning.

These are unprecedented times and the indefinite closure of York Castle MuseumYorkshire MuseumYork Art Gallery and Centre of Ceramic ArtYork St Mary’s and York Museum Gardens presents a major financial threat to the future sustainability of York Museums Trust.

Working together with audiences and communities, York Museums Trust aims to inspire, to share and to care for York’s fantastic cultural heritage. But like many charities and non-profit organisations we are struggling to survive the current coronavirus pandemic.

If you are in a position to help us survive the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic we would be grateful for any donation you can make. Please donate online here.