Which is York’s creepiest object? Vote now!

Photograph: Michelle Tresemer / Unsplash

Weird dolls. Mummified cats. Severed limbs. Unthinkable things in jars.

Items straight out of your worst nightmare have been shared from around the world after a York museum challenge went viral.

Since it has been closed because of Covid-19, the Yorkshire Museum 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 (if you dare).

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.

Millicent Carroll, digital engagement officer for the York Museums Trust, said: “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!”

We’ve gathered together some of York’s weirdest. But which makes you shudder the most? Vote now!

Vote: Which is the creepiest object from York’s museums?

1

Severed leg art

19

From York Art Gallery

"We know we have already won. This severed lower leg by Kerry Jameson has sprouted its own legs and a rather beastly head."

2

Lifesize sad boy model

14

From York Castle Museum

"Imagine walking into your stores to find this life-size doll..."

3

Troll doll with seashell guts

11

From York Art Gallery

"We have so many more at the gallery…"

4

Crab claw models

8

From York Castle Museum

"These are hand-made models of figures playing cards and of gold miners hauling gold nuggets to the surface. BUT the figures are made from crab’s legs and claws… Typical Victorians, they loved weird/creepy stuff."

5

Mummified cat

8

From York Mansion House

"Our entry for creepiest object is, of course, our mummified cat. It was found concealed in the floorboards above our State Room surrounded by a ring of hazelnut shells."

6

Real Roman hair

6

From the Yorkshire Museum
"We're kicking things off with this 3rd/4th century hair bun from the burial of a Roman lady, still with the jet pins in place…"

7

Snuffbox – with an added extra…

3

From Fairfax House

"We did once borrow a silver snuffbox from Museums of the University of St Andrews that is said to contain the pubic hair of one of George IV's mistresses. Yes that's right a pubic hair snuffbox."

8

Headless figures

2

From York Art Gallery

"Encountering these in the stores makes your (non existent) head turn"

9

Cradle to grave image

1

From Fairfax House

"Behold Thomas Rowlandson the master of creepy prints! This piece is called ‘From Cradle to Grave’ and - thorough a series of floating heads (also creepy) - charts the development of men and women from birth through to death."

All 9 questions completed!


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Vote: Which is the creepiest object from York’s museums?

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