A Museum Where Art Is Dried and Preserved After Animals Excrete It


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Nigel George, left, and Daniel Roberts created the National Poo Museum at the Isle of Wight Zoo in Sandown, England.

Credit
Andrew Testa for The New York Times

There are museums devoted to pretty much everything: bad art, instant ramen, hair. Now there is a museum in southern England devoted to excrement.

The National Poo Museum, which opened in March at the Isle of Wight Zoo in Sandown, was created by a small group of artists from a collective called Eccleston George. The group, which usually makes interactive exhibits for schools and zoos, was looking for a new project that could generate a trickle of income for its artists. The idea for the museum originated when a member, Daniel Roberts, was walking on a country path in Sweden and happened upon some mysterious animal droppings.

“Everyone stopped in their tracks to wonder what sort of poo it was,” Mr. Roberts said. “It ended up being from a lynx.”

He was struck, he said, by how intrigued his companions were. “People are disgusted by poo, but there’s also this fascination with it,” he said. And so the National Poo Museum was born.

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Skunk feces on display at the National Poo Museum.

Credit
Andrew Testa for The New York Times

It is more of an exhibit than a museum, occupying a single room at the zoo, where it will be open until the end of the summer; after that, it will go on tour. It features 20 examples of feces from different animals, including pigeon, meerkat and lion. Each sample is suspended in a sphere of clear resin that can be illuminated with the touch of a button.

Before it is preserved this way, each sample must be dried. The bird droppings dried quickly, but a cowpat took about a week to dry out and the lion feces almost two weeks.

One of the more interesting samples, from a herring gull, has a white object tangled in it.

“The white part is the remnant of a plastic bag,” said Nigel George, one of the Eccleston George artists. “This tells a story of what human beings are doing to the ecology of a place.”

The museum also features information on bowel cancer and the importance of keeping sewer pipes unblocked and unclogged, among other helpful tidbits about feces.

“It’s had a huge resonance with kids,” said Bill Cane, another member of the collective. “The poop emoji is super popular now, and it seems to be riding quite a bit on that.”

In fact, Mr. Cane said, one of the children who visited the exhibit came clutching a plush-toy poop emoji.

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