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Expanding Microminiaturists 

The Museum of Jurassic Technology goes large(r)

Wednesday, Aug 2 2000

The Museum of Jurassic Technology, that cabinet of curiosities so stumblingly dark and intricately laid out as to make even a ballerina feel like a bull in a china shop, will soon be expanding. The forensic laboratory that once separated it from the Center for Land Use Interpretation, that other, even more conceptual cabinet of curiosities two doors down on Venice Boulevard, has moved elsewhere. As a result, both the Jurassic and CLUI will soon have a great deal more room in which to do their unfailingly weird stuff.

Looking as impishly curious as always, David Wilson, the Jurassic’s founder, shows me around the new space. He doesn‘t have the exact measurements, but there’s clearly quite a lot of it. Two long rooms, currently filled with office detritus and bisected by a temporary wall, could be combined either to make one enormous (by the Jurassic‘s standards) exhibition space or broken up into several small galleries. There is also a smaller, cryptlike room, which Wilson has already fitted with an arched entrance, that will be used in the Jurassic’s upcoming exhibition of floralradiographs (X-rays of flowers).

”There‘ll be more exhibition space, but not an enormous amount more, and a lot of it is still undefined,“ Wilson explains. ”We’re in the process just now of building a small theater, and we‘re in the process of making films drawn from our museum exhibits. One will be on Mount Wilson, and in a month’s time we‘re going to Ukraine and Armenia to film the last two living microminiaturists. There’s also a long-range plan to have a tearoom adjacent to the theater, and then have some botanical gardens . . . In terms of concrete plans for the new space, that‘s it.“

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The source of Wilson’s newfound confidence is the $500,000 or so the Jurassic has raised toward buying the building, as well as a ”generous non-interest-bearing loan“ from an undisclosed benefactor, as well as donations by the Lannan Foundation, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, the Ahmanson Foundation and the Bohen Foundation. ”We no longer have a sword hanging over our head,“ he says. ”We‘re much more secure in staying here.“ It will, he estimates, be as long as three years before all the extra space is up and running. ”We’re hoping that the theater will be open by the end of the year and we‘ll have one of the films to show by then. Then we’ll turn our attention to the tearoom. The garden is more uncertain, as we need a structural engineer to look at the buildings, and that will affect the planning of the garden, too.“

And what, I ask Wilson, will tea at the Museum of Jurassic Technology be like? The answer is, it will be Finnish -- at least in style. ”Finland‘s a splendid place,“ says Wilson. ”There’s a quality of serenity in Finnish tearooms that you just can‘t argue with.“

No argument here.

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