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The Museum at Purgatory

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,084 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
From magic carpets to miniature mummies to a room simply containing "obscure objects," Curator Non overseas all that is housed in the Museum at Purgatory, and afterlife way station where artists and collectors comb over their lives, trying to discover whether they are headed for Heaven or Hell. As Non takes readers on a fascinating tour through each of the Museum's rooms - ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published November 1st 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,851)
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I thought it would be something for my spooky October reading, though it turned out to not be spooky at all (imo). Probably at the most extreme case, it might be odd in a few spots (some of the art displayed in the book). It kind of presents itself as a museum guide, a museum in Purgatory. The chapters each outline a particular person & his/her collection that is on display in the museum. Really, the purpose of looking at each display individually is to see each of these people as they looke ...more
Sep 20, 2009 Youndyc rated it liked it
This book is strange. It's mostly an art book, with a narrative created to allow Mr. Bantock to go from picture to picture. I've been curious about Mr. Bantock since perusing his earlier book Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, which is a fascinating book with all sorts of little envelopes and letters and pictures to tell the story. This book didn't have all the moving parts of G&S, but it had plenty of the strange illustrations I would expect. I'm also going to take a look ...more
Adam Rodenberger
Having read Bantock's "Griffin & Sabine" series and enjoyed them, I carried on and have decided to check out his others, starting with "The Museum of Purgatory."

By the description, I was instantly hooked. A curator at the museum in Purgatory goes into great detail about the artists or the collectors of various art collections stored within its ever expanding walls and rooms. What I did not expect was such a rich, in-depth analysis of the collectors and their personalities, an analysis that g
Sarah Sammis
Jun 07, 2007 Sarah Sammis rated it really liked it
Shelves: released
People define themselves by the things they collect in life and in the afterlife: that is the idea behind The Museum at Purgatory by Nick Bantock. Those who know themselves and are comfortable with what they've become can move on to one o the utopian or dystopian worlds. Those who can't come to terms with themselves (for good or bad) or those who don't know themselves must stay in Purgatory, the holding pen for the afterlife.

The narrator of The Museum at Purgatory is Non, curator of the museum.
May 18, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it
The Museum at Purgatory is exactly what is stated on the cover, “a wondrous strange tale from the author of Griffin and Sabine”. However, Griffin and Sabine are absent. The story is told through Non, the curator of the Museum at Purgatory. Non describes the different rooms in the museum, telling the stories of the collectors, their collections and their spiritual journeys. Once again, Bantock has woven a bizarrely spiritual tale. The artwork was interesting, but secondary to the thought-provokin ...more
Amber the Human
I suggested this years ago as a possible book club pick, and now having read it I'm glad that it didn't win over the other two books I offered up. It's not long enough to pull apart for an entire meeting. Interesting? Yes. Nice art? Yes. As good as the Griffin/Sabine whatnot? No. But it is its own book, and that's fine. Still something here I don't quite get - maybe I'm not supposed to?
Feb 12, 2012 Aimee rated it really liked it
I wrote Bantock off years ago as gimmick-y. While 'The Museum at Purgatory' doesn't stray far from his template, the subject matter and themes tackled (if trite) were perfectly suited to it and a pleasure to read. The best thing?:

"This view of a dislocated psyche brings into question the degree to which our needs can be represented by the written word. Are our souls stranded, unable to express themselves in a suitable language? We don't dream in words, our imaginations are picture based. Images
Jun 17, 2015 J L rated it really liked it
I was fortunate to stumble across this in my local bookstore. It was quite clever and well executed, but for my part I would have loved to see much, much more fleshed out and detailed. This reads like the vignettes of a much larger body of work and by the end I was a tad dissatisfied.

Still, a lovely book with an intriguing premise.
Mar 09, 2014 Abby added it
This is extraordinary and fascinating. The tongue-in-cheek nonfiction makes Mr. Bantock hard to take seriously, and there are a few groaners if you know your mythology. He clearly writes books to facilitate the kind of art he enjoys making (he just couldn't stay away from the postcards). But it turns out to be a sympathetic view of Purgatory which is remarkably in line with the theology of the place. It's interesting to see all the different things that hang us up.
Dec 10, 2014 Jenny rated it liked it
Interesting, but not as compelling as Griffin & Sabine. If the Curator's tale had been woven throughout to show how his story fit in with those of the people he was describing, the book would've been more successful. Still, it's a neat idea and the ideas and visuals are fun. Reminds me of the ultra-strange museum/art installation Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles.
Jun 16, 2012 Dana rated it really liked it
I loved the Griffin and Sabine stories. I didn't know what really to expect with this one, though I was expecting more letters. I was pleasantly surprised with the range of sculptures and collages created as the artifacts in the museum.

each section of the book is artifacts linked by the person in Purgatory that collected them. My favourite was the collaged letters kept by one of the people.

The collages really were my favourite part. I could see how they had been created since I read his other
Trevor Falsey
Mar 18, 2016 Trevor Falsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"-developed a system of belief revolving around the notion of three belongings: belonging to oneself and the discover of one's internal theater; belonging to the universe and the unification that comes with sensual bliss; and belonging to one's ancestry and the earth beneath ones feet"

-Part II The Curator's Tale (pg 103)
Debra Komar
Mar 24, 2014 Debra Komar rated it it was amazing
My love for Nick Bantock's work continues to grow. What a remarkable flight of imagination. His ability to couple his art with a narrative that gives it permanence and a backstory is incredible. He is a true artist, in every sense of the word.
Jul 17, 2014 Eva rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
I don't think I am hip enough for this book.

I just didn't "get" it.

I liked the stories about the various Purgatorians, though.
Alan Marchant
Jul 12, 2009 Alan Marchant rated it liked it
artistic pennance

Nick Bantock's Museum at Purgatory is an art concept book in which eclectic collections of drawings and found-art are tied together by a curious story line. The various collections are supposed to illustrate the eccentricities and struggles of dead souls. The concept is the same as Bantock's earlier Griffin & Sabine. But this larger book suffers from too much overblown prose and artwork that is mostly insipid. It's as if Bantock's back room had become cluttered with unused i
Kimberly Ann
Jan 26, 2016 Kimberly Ann rated it it was ok
Shelves: collage

I have not a clue.....this guy well I'm guessing he's not always lucid or dealing with a full deck.....maybe he only plays with the Jokers.

Shakes her head!
Apr 25, 2008 Barrett rated it really liked it
sonya lent me a copy yay!

a fun read, though Bantock seems to try his best to inject weighty, thought-provoking questions into it. personally, i was too distracted by the artwork and the fact it was all created specific to the book to notice.

definitely going to have to read up on the various versions of the utopias and dystopias. i'd never heard of Fiddler's Green, for example, before i read Gaiman's Sandman series. nor Valhalla (which, ironically, is the name of one of my favorite songs right
Aug 11, 2010 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: art
Individuals in Purgatory are represented by collections of art and objects, some brought with them from their lives, others created there; this is the conceit for Bantock's art-fiction. Interesting in concept, it suffers from a defect common to this type of assemblage; namely, that the artworks are all too clearly by the same person. This book would have worked much better had Bantock stuck with using the narrator, Non the Curator, as his representative and persuaded other artists to take on the ...more
Oct 21, 2008 Arrianne rated it really liked it
This short and elegant fiction touches on a unique perspective of the meaning of life and the experiences of the dead in the afterlife. It manages to be tragic, hopeful and dryly humorous.
The chapters follow a sampling of the innumerable collections that are meaningful to the curator who is the narrator. The collections are all the objects that had meaning to the deceased. True to Bantock's style several plots lines are being balanced to order to tell the story on the central character.

Oct 24, 2010 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
I enjoyed this, though maybe not quite as much as the others of Bantock's I've read so far. Very interesting re-definition of the role of purgatory, and the possibilities for where souls go after their time there. Fascinating quote: "It would seem to me that in death, unlike life, we no longer suffer from the socially enforced collusion that requires us to accept a single version of reality"
Aug 18, 2008 Tara rated it it was ok
what i learned from this book: while the shape-shifting museum at purgatory seems interesting enough, i probably wouldnt go out of my way to visit unless i was already in the area. the premise of the book was interesting but the book left me wanting more imaginative description, less moralizing and less cheese. color illustrations raised my rating by a star.
May 17, 2010 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
i couldn't get into this book as much as the griffin and sabine books so i only skimmed it and read a few of the stories. bantock has a great imagination and it was a creative, neat book with lots of great pictures and stories (from what i read of it). but, like i said, i couldn't get involved in it. maybe later.
Ilana Waters
May 08, 2012 Ilana Waters rated it really liked it
I found the theme, writing, and illustrations to be beautifully mysterious. The ending astounded me and broke my heart, but also left me with a feeling of hope for the future. I don't often enjoy books that wring me dry emotionally, but Mr. Bantock is proof that some are well worth it!
Dec 22, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: notquitecomics
Love Nick Bantock. This book is cool. It's pretty. There's not much else to say. If you like his other work, you'll like this.
Apr 29, 2016 Azra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, fiction, fantasy
The art in this book is great, from the postage stamps from all the worlds of the afterlife to the handmade spinning tops, amalgams and magic carpets. This book reads like a exhibition catalog of several rooms of the Museum before the Curator tells his tale. I loved it!
May 27, 2015 Noemi rated it really liked it
This was my introduction to Nick Bantock, and one of the coolest books I've ever read. While I found the frame-story a little disappointing, the stories of the people/rooms in the museum are spectacular. Beautiful artwork, and fascinating characters.
Jan 07, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
Bantock reminds me a bit of Neil Gaiman. This is one of the stranger books I've ever read. I was totally unprepared to find out who the curator of the museum was in real life. Where does Bantock come up with these ideas? More please!
Douglas Summers-Stay
Mar 28, 2012 Douglas Summers-Stay rated it liked it
Shelves: borgesian
The author of those Griffin and Sabine books (the ones with the postcards) has invented a museum in the afterlife. He takes random odd found things, makes art from them, and invents fictional stories about them.
Jan 25, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing
A rather unique exploration of cosmology and metaphysics channeled through an imaginary museum located at Purgatory. Not quite Dante, but a very reflective work on the experiences of living.
May 09, 2012 Serena rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
This is my favorite Nick Bantock book. The idea of looking over the artifacts of a life, what our collections can tell us about ourselves. The art, of course, is amazingly beautiful.
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Nick was schooled in England and has a BA in Fine Art (painting). He has authored 25 books, 11 of which have appeared on the best seller lists, including 3 books on the New York Times top ten at one time. ‘Griffin and Sabine’ stayed on that list for over two years. His works have been translated into 13 languages and over 5 million have been sold worldwide. Once named by the classic SF magazine We ...more
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