Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Torture. Museum.

Open to the most daring and strong-stomached of the public, this museum houses all the tools of the abandoned torture trade.

Past the gate-keeper, a dark and grungy ode to torture awaits.

Extensive plaster molding and sparse red and blue mood lighting insinuates a dungeon for you to walk through. If you dare.

In the olden times, folks didn't have the full spectrum of color, apparently they only saw the world in the shades of 3D glass lenses. Royal blue or crimson red.  

From the worn down spikes of the Iron Maiden, to the rotted ropes still partially tied to The Rack; everything wreaks of bad times.

Descriptions are printed onto parchment paper and housed inside glass display cases. This is where the real torture begins.  The writing is probably crafty and witty in one of the dozen translations it's written in, but not the English one.

Equally appalling yet morbidly fascinating are the illustrations and aged photographs of the torture devices being put to use.  After the third or fourth picture of heavily bled ink depicting a man's disembowelment or a woman's defacement; it gets old.

It's disturbing to see how we used to handle suspicion, accusation, and hearsay.  But, not as disturbing as watching how people love to touch and test how sharp or uncomfortable every artifact is.  

I now understand why respectable museums don't allow people to touch the artwork.  It looked like everyone was blind as they felt up and heavily petted every display piece.  Was it because we're in Amsterdam or was it because dignity didn't belong in the mood-lit dungeon of plaster?  

This place is a pseudo cemetery. It houses devices of torment and unnatural death.  Hundreds of lives were ruined and even ended on the chair I now see a tourist seated upon with a beaming smile across her face as she cautiously rocks back and forth.  No respect, no reverence.  

Which torture is worse? The failed attempt to recreate the experience of the victim through mood lights and plaster? Or being situated in line behind the tourist with an unstoppable compulsion to act out scene after scene upon every display item?


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