Edgar Allan Poe

Forking paths in Submersive Productions' "Incredible Musaeum"

Forking paths in Submersive Productions' 'Incredible Musaeum'

On a July evening in 1822, more than a thousand people gathered in Baltimore's Peale Museum to see a rare cactus bloom. They crowded around the foot-long bud as it opened, straining to glimpse its "many yellow filaments, forming a deep funnel-shaped cavity." Those who couldn't get close enough complained, leading the museum to promise "better arrangements for viewing the internal part" the next night. Examining the secret, fleshy interior of an exotic plant was among many "rational amusements" that the Peale Museum offered to a curious 19th-century public. By the light of newly-invented gas lamps, you could see prodigious animals, freakish...