Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Applause! Applause! Review of The Windup Circus - The History Of Toys at The Loft at Prince by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of The Museum Of Interesting Things' Secret Speakeasy “The Windup Circus - The History Of Toys" at The Loft at Prince was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

The Windup Circus - The History Of Toys
Secret Speakeasy of The Museum Of Interesting Things
Hosted & Curated by Denny Daniel
The Loft at Prince 
177 Prince Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10012
Reviewed 7/26/15 at 6:00 p.m.

The Museum Of Interesting Things is an interactive traveling exhibition of antiques and inventions. It was formed when curator and founder Denny Daniel started working as a freelance filmmaker and photo retoucher/restorer for such companies as The Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation, Songs Of Love, and The New York Times. Amassing his collection of antiques since the 1980s and having had over 20 museum and gallery exhibitions of his own work at locations like the Chelsea Art Museum, he decided to use his knowledge, experience, contacts, and extensive collection of over 300 antiques to start an enterprise that would inspire students and some of us in the "real" world to learn from the past and innovate a better future. The Museum currently has 8 specialties that coincide with the curriculum in our public schools as well as being fun and interesting for kids and adults. Those "departments" are Science, Math, Literature, Medical, Toys, Music, Household and Photography. Two additional designations just formed include Green Power items that will inspire the next generation to learn from the ingenuity of past generations, and Holyland/Antiquities that includes items dating from as far back as the Roman Empire. The Museum is based in New York City, but it can travel anywhere. Recent exhibitions have been at small and large schools, universities, hospitals, at showings of Nevermore: The Imaginary Life & Mysterious Death Of Edgar Allan Poe at New World Stages, and, most recently, at the Summer Soiree of the Beaux Arts Society.

This event was designated a Secret Speakeasy because the presentation could be moved or canceled at a moment's notice. Any last minute change will probably be because of the unavailability of the location, However, don't rule out a raid. The feds already confiscated an encrypted telephone that is decades old and despite wiping its memory, they have still not returned the item to the Museum. The invitation list is also exclusive. Denny Daniel encourages you to only invite "people you know and love." The theme of this month's Secret Speakeasy was "The Windup Circus - The History Of Toys." Denny Daniel hosted the event demonstrating various windup toys set out on tables throughout the space. He also told the story of a 1955 toy entitled Uranium Rush, an "educator approved game" where "Players begin with $15.000 and prospect for uranium in an area determined by a spinner (mountain, hills, or desert). Claims can be purchased for $1,000 each and may be auctioned off or tested for uranium. This involves an electric 'Geiger counter' that produces a buzzing sound if uranium is discovered. The claim is then sold to the federal government for $50,000. Players alternate turns until all claims have been staked and the person with the most money is declared the winner." 

The Loft at Prince is a great location to hold this event. It is a beautiful, comfortable setting with white sofas and a screen on which to watch old films. I was able to catch two short films - one stop action movie called "King Midas" and the second, a silent film, entitled "Underwater Circus." Denny Daniel saved all the acquisitions he got in the mail this month and allowed the attendees of the Secret Speakeasy to open the boxes to see what wonderful items were contained inside. Besides Denny's presentations, the films and short breaks that enabled those in attendance to socialize and look at all the items on display, there was also free food (this month a special donation of ribs, pork and cole slaw but usually spaghetti). A $10.00 donation is requested for the Museum of Interesting Things, and there is a cash bar, but everything is reasonably priced (e.g. a can of diet soda cost $2.00). 

The items in the collection of The Museum of Interesting Things have been featured on the television show Oddities. Next month's Secret Speakeasy is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, August 23, 2015 from 6-11 p.m. with the topic being "Victrola-a-Go Go! The History of Music Players" but check for any last minutes changes. For more information and to support the worthy efforts of The Museum Of Interesting Things, visit 

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