Ripley’s Predecessor

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

When I first opened the website The Lost Museum, I was not really impressed with it at all. It seemed a bit cheesy with both horrible animation and sound effects. However, as it was assigned, I had no choice but to endure and see where this odd little site was going to take me.

Being a fan of all types of games, both on computers as well as consoles, I clicked on the link Who Burned Down the Museum. I was whisked away to the virtual world of P.T. Barnum, and his museum of oddities. There I found I had to click my way through this confused, yet organized set of exhibits set to some kind of horrible torture based soundtrack. I felt like I was on a virtual tour of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, but at least this time it was free. And to top it all off, just when I thought I was going to be rewarded with a solution to the mystery I had collected all this evidence for, I was shown this video that informed me that it could have been anyone including Barnum himself. This is about as anticlimactic as when you beat Super Mario Brothers the first time.

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I chose, from the selected reading, ‘Drink Versus Printer’s Ink: Temperance and the Management of Financial Speculation in The Life of P.T. Barnum.” In this reading it discusses how P.T. Barnum related the use of alcohol to a type of speculation, a purely risky venture that will inevitably lose money. The answer to this type of speculation is temperance. And just as temperance can control the risky venture of alcohol, so can printer’s ink control the risky venture of humbuggery.

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There are a few things I noticed that correlated with the persona of the P.T. Barnum that was described in the reading I did for the week. There is a sign that hangs on the wall near the closed aquarium exhibit that reads, “No admittance for Females of known bad character or other improper persons so that ladies and families will be perfectly safe”. This plays into Barnum’s idea of credit and trust in that people who cannot be trusted cannot participate in the local economy, which would include his own museum. Also, there are some believable exhibits (not many in number) that are mixed in with the not so believable stuff. Barnum made it a point to defend such things as “a little clap-trap occasionally” but hoped that because he had such a wide range of things one could overlook a few embellishments.

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Overall, after the selected reading for the week, I think this is an accurate representation of how the museum would look. Even though it is full of humbuggery, I believe that Barnum though the use of printer’s ink, would be able to spin a lot of the different exhibits, in effect making them real due to the relationship between advertising and public opinion.

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