Wednesday, February 23, 2011

At Oran Z’s Pan African Black Facts & Wax Museum

This is one of the first things I was able to focus my eyes on when I visited the museum, which looks like a garage crammed with someone’s collection. You’re bombarded with so much stuff: wax figures of Frederick Douglass and Barack Obama, toys and knickknacks, slave artifacts and sports memorabilia. Pieces are in disarray too, like wax figures on their backsides somehow being worked on. The Thurgood Marshall figure was sitting behind a judge’s bench and dressed in a robe. Nearby, in the witness stand, was a figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Movieland Wax Museum, which went out of business, had originally built this set for the TV show “Perry Mason,” and it looks like it’s straight out of the 1950s. Oran Z himself, who arranged the installations with such care and devotion to his heroes, will take you on the tours. He’s a very passionate man and wants to educate everyone on his understanding of African American history. I haven’t been on a tour any shorter than three hours.

— Artist Kristen Morgin, as told to Jori Finkel

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