Written by Jonathan Wojcik

My Top Thirteen Favorite Things From

Maybe you knew that Gravity Falls was set in Oregon. Maybe you also knew that the Mystery Shack was based on the Northwest's very real trend of kitschy tourist attractions in an eternal race to out-weird one another.

By the time we would move out here, however, some of the local classics would have only recently shut down. Times are tough for taxidermied monsters and paper mache mummies.

Not so for Portland's Peculiarium, however, where you can simulate being buried alive, take a photograph with a ten foot model of Bigfoot, eat a mealworm sundae during the right promotions and even walk away with some of their displays to keep, because oh yeah, it's also a shop and gallery venue for local artists. It's almost the kind of establishment I always dreamed of opening and running myself, so let's take a look at my very favorite curiosities offered by my competition...

Mounted Critter Heads!

I didn't see the artist's name anywhere obvious, but the Peculiarium has over a dozen of these wonderfully colorful, surreal little craniums you can take home for a mere thirty bucks apiece. The creature here with the entire little porcelain Ben Franklin (or somebody?) erupting from its head is quite possibly the best, but only by a thin margin.

Monsters Added to Thrift Store Paintings

You've probably heard about this. There are multiple artists who've been featured around the web for this particular practice, but one of them, Mike Wellins, is even the co-creator of the Peculiarium itself. A number of these pieces are for sale here, but we particularly liked the colorful little imps cavorting around this still-life.

It's a controversial practice too, of course. You never can be sure if one of these paintings might be an original work someone else poured their heart into - as a matter of fact, over a hundred of my own grandmother's paintings were stolen out of a van and completely unrecovered around 2005...except for one that turned up in a Florida goodwill. Not every painting you find in a thrift store was unwanted!

Of course, my Grandmother hated the vast majority of her own paintings, moving on to the next and the next almost immediately. She'd probably find it nothing but funny if somebody painted a satan or a robot into one of them.

This Ceiling Blob

This gorgeous bug-eyed glob is made with the same methods I use to fart out sculptures from insulation foam, though it's painted a lot nicer than I have the skills or patience to pull off.


Who sold their soul to be able to get this quality from super sculpey? Are you KIDDING?!

Giant Fly Head

More foam work showing a better effort than mine, even if it appears this poor baby lost a nice proboscis at some point.

The head of a fly appears to be the official/unofficial mascot of the Peculiarium, unfortunately leaving me with very few options for my own hypothetical monster museum. Flies are my thing! Leeches are cute, but not nearly as photogenic or half as easy to merchandise!

Shadow Lands Figures

This is such a cool idea! These cut-outs are gorgeously painted all on their own, but their thick two-dimensional construction also means they cast a crisp, distinct shadow. The ghoulish vampiric figure is my favorite, I think, but the astronaut erupting with some alien infection is the most impressively detailed, while the monstrous Jack-in-the-Box probably casts the best shadow.

Miss Peculiarium

Mike doesn't just deface paintings with space mutants, either; he improves on tacky second-hand sculptures and figurines, too! I like the simplicity of just putting a hairy, tentacled cyclops in this woman's apron and giving her an official Peculiarium sash. The rules of whatever competition she just won had to be wild.

"Dude, Where's my Guts?"

I've stuck to smaller art pieces up to this point mostly because I don't want to spoil too much of the bigger displays, but this is a pretty cute one. Through a series of signs like these, Sydney and Bob guide you through the process of having your organs stolen and sold on the black market, complete with a whole bathtub full of fake "ice" and entrails.

Engelbert & Humperdink

That's what these two aliens are officially named, and you can even stick your head up through the autopsy dummy for a photo op. Meanwhile, Dr. McCoy is pretty sure these guys are handling their delicate medical work just fine without him.


..."Now With Pants"

The Diseased Zombie Brain

My own camera had room for only seconds of video, so here's someone else's recording of this adorable public service announcement. You get to view this video in a pitch-dark side room with only the ocassional crackling of light to show off that it actually resembles the interior of a giant brain.

Miniature Horror House

Words aren't really going to do this display justice, so just enjoy the amount of thought and work that must have gone into every room of this AMAZING custom dollhouse:

This Fly Statue

To end on another smaller art piece, this lovely sculpted fly head was startling only fifteen bucks, so of course I couldn't pass it up, even if it stands as a reminder that somebody else beat me to plastering a fly's head all over a museum of fake monsters.

The next time we meet, Peculiarium, I can only hope it's in the context of a worthy rivalry.