ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — A newly opened museum in Allegan is showcasing the collection of a circus sideshow performer and magician who has traveled the world, picking up oddities along the way.
“I’ve been collecting odd stuff for about 10 to 15 years. All sorts of stuff: human osteology (like old medical specimens), cult items, spiritual items, true crime, artifacts, so anything with a story,” Eric Ross, owner and curator said. “…A lot of people know I collect weird things and (they) started gifting me weird items, and I just had all of this stuff.”
This year, he decided to take a break from touring and do something different, though he wasn’t sure what.
“I remember looking around in my house and I (saw) all of this stuff, all this weird stuff that I’ve got. It was actually my wife, she suggested, ‘Hey, why don’t you get a studio space downtown and open up a museum?’ And I said, ‘That is a great idea.’ And sure enough, that is what we did,” he explained.
Museum Obscura at 114 Locust St. north of Hubbard Street in Allegan opened to the public on March 30.
“There was something about this (location). I like the hole-in-the-wall feel. It was the perfect size, at least for what I was trying to do,” he said.
The museum has two rooms. The first is full of human osteology, cult items, circus sideshow items and more while the second features true crime.
“(In the first room) you’re going to see some circus memorabilia from performers that have been on the Ripley’s TV show and in the Ripley’s books. You’re also going to see some stuff from the performers from the Jim Rose’s circus from the early ’90s,” Ross explained.
He added that he also features some of the props he has used while touring.
The true crime room is bigger than the first. It features items from cult leader Charles Manson, serial killer Ted Bundy as well as paintings by John Wayne Gacy and serial killer Aileen Wuornos’s panties just to name a few.
“Back when I started collecting true crime stuff, it was just a thing here, a thing there. I started growing my true crime collection. Back then, people didn’t talk about true crime. It was kind of a hush-hush thing. It wasn’t mainstream. Now everyone talks about it. It’s become a pop culture thing,” Ross said.
Ross said that while he is not actively searching for items to add to his collection, he is always open to donations.
“What’s cool about that is, actually, some of the best stuff that I’ve gotten has came to me. It’s found me,” he explained. “… Since we opened the museum, I’ve gotten a lot of donations from people.”
The museum has been open for about two months and Ross said that he has been surprised by the turnout.
“I did not know that many people wanted to come (to) see such obscure things. But, the reception has been amazing, the turnout has been amazing and it just continues to grow,” Ross said.
Admission is $10 for anyone over the age of 13, $5 for children and free for those 5 and under. Museum Obscura is open Friday and Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Ross said he hopes to expand the hours in the future and hire someone to help while he is on tour.
“I am getting the itch and it is time to hit the road soon so I’m going to book a tour here soon,” he said.
For more information, visit the museum’s website.