Do The Spirits Return?

Rory-Feldman-Collection---DTSCB-(1915)_LOWRESDo The Spirits Return?
From Dark Arts to Sleight of Hand in Early 20th Century Stage Magic
Saturday, April 11, 2015 – Sunday, July 12, 2015
Curated by Morbid Anatomy Museum creative director Joanna Ebenstein
and programmer in residence Shannon Taggart.


Today, we think of magic as pleasurable sleight of hand with a dash of neuroscience; acts which amuse and astound. But for centuries, the word “magic” evoked more powerful ideas: control over the boundaries between life and death, witchcraft and satanism, the sacred power of relics and amulets, the healing arts of shamans, and the deceptive practices of confidence men. This pre-rational history of “magic” lies just beneath the surface of the golden age of stage magic, as perfectly exemplified by the life and work of Howard Thuston (1869–1936) a former con man, carnival speiler and missionary student who became one of the most famous magicians of his time with a reputation surpassing that of his chief rival Harry Houdini. “Do The Spirits Return?” will explore the surprising intersections between spiritualism, torture theatre, dark arts and early 20th century stage magic as seen in the work of Howard Thurston via stunning, never before exhibited original posters, artworks, artifacts, props,  photographs and ephemera drawn from the astounding collection of over 50,000 artifacts amassed by Brooklyn native Rory Feldman.