ENOCH in Space

An Ancient Egyptian Funerary Vessel Heads to Outer Space

Tavares Strachan's “Enoch” was launched into space on December 3rd, 2018. It's the latest in a long line of artworks inspired by Egyptian canopic jars.
Silhouette de château illuminé par un orage, by Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo: Surrealist Artist

Victor Hugo created visual art that was intuitive, experimental, and inspired by Spiritualism. In other words, nothing like his novel Les Misérables.
Plaster face casts by Anna Coleman Ladd

How Masks of Mutilated WWI Soldiers Haunted Postwar Culture

In the age before plastic surgery, masks were the best option for veterans with faces scarred by war. The end results, however, were somewhat uncanny.
Land of the Lotus Eaters, a painting by Robert S. Duncanson

Marking the Grave of the First African American Landscape Artist

Robert S. Duncanson was among the first African American artists to gain international fame. And yet his grave has stayed unmarked for 146 years.
Close up of an eye

Finding a Murderer in a Victim’s Eye

In late 19th-century forensics, optography was all the rage. This pseudoscience held that what someone saw just before death would be imprinted on their eye.
Relics from the Franklin Search Expedition

When Clairvoyants Searched for a Lost Expedition

When Captain Sir John Franklin's Arctic expedition went awry, clairvoyants claimed to be able to contact the crew members. Why did people believe them?
mummy brown painting

When Artists Painted with Real Mummies

The popular paint pigment called “mummy brown” used to be made from—yep—ground-up Egyptian mummies.
pioneer plaque

Art in Space

Artists may soon be heading to the moon for the first time, but art and space travel have been linked together since the beginning.
St Cuthbert Gospel

Why Europe’s Oldest Intact Book Was Found in a Saint’s Coffin

The St. Cuthbert Gospel is the earliest surviving intact European book. Some time around 698, it was slipped into the coffin of a saint.
Ectoplasm Helen Duncan

Ectoplasm and the Last British Woman Tried for Witchcraft

Spiritualist medium Helen Duncan was photographed emitting ectoplasm, supposedly proof of her ability to contact the dead.