Atlas Obscura is all about identifying the world's wildest and wackiest locales. According to their new book, due out Oct. 15, five of those hidden wonders are here in Massachusetts.
“Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders” will feature the Mary Baker Eddy Library's Mapparium; Mass General's historic Ether Dome; the notorious James Allen "skin book" at the Boston Athenaeum; the fabulous Museum of Bad Art in Somerville, and the weirdly wonderful Rockport Paper House.
Boston's beloved Mapparium is a world-famous, three-story, stained-glass globe located inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library. According to Atlas Obscura, it is “the only place in the world in which the surface of the Earth can be seen without distortion.”
The Ether Dome is now part of the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital, but it once served as the very first surgical suite to use ether as an anesthetic. Surgical science has advanced by leaps and bounds since 1846, but at one time, the Ether Dome was the epitome of medical innovation.
James Allen was a notorious criminal who went by several aliases in his brief and violent life. While in prison, he dictated his biography to the warden with one strange request: that the resulting book be bound in his own skin.
Allen's deathbed request was granted, and the “Narrative of the Life of James Allen,” is now kept securely at the Boston Athenaeum where it can be viewed only upon request and with pre-approval.
Somerville's Museum of Bad Art is exactly what it sounds like: a display of some of the world's most appalling, yet somehow compelling, art. Located in the basement of a 1912 theater, the non-profit, community-run operation is in possession of more than 700 works of questionable art. About 25 pieces are on display at any given time.
The Rockport Paper House was built in 1922 by Mr. Elis F. Stenman, a mechanical engineer who designed the machines that make paper clips. He intended newspaper to serve as insulation for the home, but instead constructed the entire building out of paper. Later, he added paper furniture and decor, as well.
Be sure to pick up a copy of “Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders” when it hits bookstores October 15.