Friday night with Houdini

If I was asked how I spent last Friday night, I’d be able to say, “Seeing how small I could make myself to fit into a milk can.”  Let me explain…

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art  feature exhibit is Houdini:  Art and Magic, and it runs through May 13, 2012.  I was at the Museum for work a few weeks ago and quickly walked through the exhibit but it was before the museum opened so I didn’t get the full effect.  But I was intrigued.  QAG headed to the museum on Friday night to check it out.

The museum exhibit, organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, is the first major art museum exhibition to examine Houdini’s life, legend, and enduring cultural influence. Madison is the only Midwest venue for the exhibition, which illuminates Houdini’s evolution from fledging circus performer to internationally renowned escape artist to muse and inspiration for contemporary artists. (Source)

The exhibit features a documentary about Houdini, artifacts from his performances, one of his journals, family photographs, and then a lot of modern art inspired by Houdini.  This exhibit includes a room full of pigeons…and a casket.  That was a little too modern art for me.

Houdini was a performer, risk-taker, and an athlete.  He was a runner, swimmer, boxer and was in tip-top shape for performing his feats.  He could get himself out of a straight jacket and out of a human fish tank (water torture tank) – also on display.

This one made me nervous–I am a swimmer through and through but do not like to be in water with my eyes closed.  I was never a fan of playing Marco Polo when I was a lifeguard/swimming instructor.

Back to that milk can…Houdini could get himself (it’s estimated he was between 5’5″ and 5’7″ tall) into a metal milk can, would be locked in, and then could escape.

One corner of the exhibit had a milk can painted, to scale, on the wall.  You were encouraged to see if you could fit within the silhouette.  Being a bit of a competitive person, I squeezed all 5’10” of myself within that shape!  Photography wasn’t allowed in the museum, otherwise you can bet that photo would be in this post!

Fun fact of the evening, Houdini’s family immigrated from Hungary to Appleton, Wisconsin in 1878.  And did you know that Houdini was the first person to fly a plane in Australia?  (These two facts may come in handy during bar trivia sometime…you never know.)

If you’re in Madison between now and May 13th, I highly recommend the exhibit. Or check it out of it comes to a city near you.  It’s full of magic and mystery.

Have you ever learned to do a magic trick?

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