Provo museum showcases haunted items

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Co-curators Anca Tutescu and Greene Rollins stand in the Museum of Haunted and Mysterious Objects with a haunted artifact, stuffed chimpanzee “Jacko,” Rollins’ childhood toy. (Jessica Olsen)

A bronze casting of a liar’s tongue, a doll surrounded by apologetic notes, a vibrant collage of colors and magazine cutouts created as a shrine to an unknown creature — such are the sights at the Museum of Haunted and Mysterious Objects, located above Cat’s Cradle Antiques 168 E. Center Street in Provo.

Those who come to the museum are first greeted by an eerily life-like dummy staring customers down as they walk up old, wood stairs. After paying their way — $5 for adults, $3 for children and students with ID — the curator gives participants a flashlight and sets them loose on the museum.

“The entire ambiance is just creepy. You’re in the dark, you’re given a flashlight and you’re in with all these weird dolls and things,” said BYU freshman Austin Stutz. “It’s kind of like the entire room is staring at you.”

The “no name” doll is known to turn and face the wall even though workers claim they haven’t touched the exhibit. (Jessica Olsen)

For curator Greene Rollins, the creepy and often unsettling objects don’t faze him. After all, he is used to handling the quirky and ‘haunted’ objects.

His father owns Cat’s Cradle Antiques, so Rollins has handled a fair amount of deemed ‘supernatural’ antiques growing up in the store and then working for his father. In fact, one of Rollin’s childhood toys, a stuffed chimpanzee called ‘Jacko,’ is on display at the museum.

“Oh I love Jacko, and he loves me — exclusively,” Rollins said.

According to the description beside the alleged haunted toy, the stuffed chimpanzee was a ‘jealous’ playmate, and Rollins said he would come in his room as a child to find other toys of his ripped apart with no clear explanation.

Then there’s Marci, the notorious baby doll who, according to the story, does not like her picture taken. Surrounding her casing are 20 or so apology notes of people who had taken Marci’s picture and supposedly experienced bad luck because of it.

“The way (Marci) is leaning toward you with its ugly eyes and face smashed up against the glass, it’s just kind of creepy,” Stutz said.

However, far more creepy to Stutz was the ‘no name’ doll. When he first walked into the museum, Stutz noticed the doll, which normally faces toward the rest of the museum, was facing the wall. This isn’t the first time the doll was facing the wrong direction. According to Rollins, the strange phenomenon is almost a weekly occurrence.

After finding out it had happened again during an interview with a Universe reporter, Rollins promptly stood up and left the room to lift the large glass dome and reposition ‘no name.’

Rollins said he is more of a skeptic and tries to find explanations for occurrences like these. Though he may not be a believer of every paranormal story out there, he does believe in the story that objects can tell.

“Objects are a result of someone else’s vision, and so really, they create this overall story of the identity of a person,” Rollins said. “You learn a lot about people by looking at what they own.”

Each object in the museum comes with a description or story, which came as a result of Rollins and co-curator Anca Tutescu’s research. Tutescu’s favorite exhibit at the museum is a painting of a mother and son.

“The mother died during the making of this painting. It grips me,” Tutescu said. “The son had only this memory — this picture — of her.”

Tutescu said of all the artifacts in the museum, this image and the story it tells is the most haunting to her.

The Museum of Haunted and Mysterious objects is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 3 to 10 p.m. through Nov. 5.

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