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LONG ISLAND CITY — The minds behind the funky art collective Flux Factory are taking a curious turn with their latest exhibit: converting their Long Island City gallery space into a modern-day curiosities museum.
The exhibit The Wonder Cabinet, which opened at Flux Factory this week, takes its cues from the 16th and 17th-century idea of a “cabinet of curiosities” — rooms that housed strange and often eclectic collections of objects regarded with fascination at the time, like fossils and other items from nature.
“It was basically a precursor to the modern museum,” said Flux Factory curator Georgia Muenster, who said the exhibit is based off the Musei Wormiani Historia of Ole Worm, a Danish forensic doctor from the 1600s whose curiosities collection was recreated at the Geological Museum in Denmark.
“The notion here was to make our own 21st century version,” Muenster said. “It struck me that it would be amazing to see something like this created for the modern time. What are the precious objects these days, and how do we make it relevant to an audience now?”
The result is the interpretation of 11 Flux Factory artists, who turned the group’s gallery space into an interactive walk-through cabinet of wonders.
The exhibit, which is on display through the end of March, is a maze of rooms filled with drawers to open and explore, a staircase for a ziggurat, or ancient Mesopotamian temple, a photo booth and a wall of test tubes holding butterflies.
One artist installed a plinko game on an old conveyor belt, leftover from when the Flux Factory building was once a greeting card factory.
Flux Factory has also self-published a book to coincide with the show. The paperback Wonder Cabinet is a collection of stories, prose and other writings from the artists involved, which were woven together by Irene Lee, a former Flux artist-in-residence. The text was used as a storyboard for the actual physical exhibit.
The Wonder Cabinet will be on display until March 31 at the Flux Factory studio, 39-31 29th St. in Long Island City. Hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 6 p.m. or by appointment.