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The Museum at Purgatory
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The Museum at Purgatory

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  988 ratings  ·  48 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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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
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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
Debra Komar
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.

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!
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
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
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 3 of 5 stars
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
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.

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"
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.
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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 5 of 5 stars
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.
Jul 23, 2009 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: Juushika
88 books/2009

I hardly know what to say about this book except that it was visually and intellectually stimulating while being one of the most original things I have read.
This book had pretty pictures but did not make sense, was the opposite of sense. Not as in it lacked sense, but as in it was at war with sense and actively worked against it.
I still enjoy his mix of fantasy and reality as related to art & spirituality (vs. religion). Interesting premise with some fun character stories. The ending was great.
strange and fascinating. this is one of the most unusual books I've ever read. sure, it's a bit pretentious; but if you can ignore that it's an amazing book.
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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
More about Nick Bantock...
Griffin and Sabine (Griffin & Sabine Trilogy #1) Sabine's Notebook (Griffin & Sabine Trilogy #2) The Golden Mean (Griffin & Sabine Trilogy #3) The Gryphon: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Is Rediscovered (Morning Star Trilogy, #1) The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy

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