paranormal, paranormal mystery
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A Day at the Zymoglyphic Museum

1599 engraving of a curiosity cabinet, Ferranto Imperato

1599 engraving of a curiosity cabinet, from Ferranto Imperato’s Dell’Historia Naturale


– combining form, fermentation


– a sculpted figure, hieroglyphic

San Mateo’s Zymoglyphic Musem is a modern-day curiosity cabinet. Part cryptozoological art, part marvels, the Zymoglyphic Museum is open rarely, and lives in an outbuilding off the driveway of a house.

And though this museum was born in a ten-year-old’s imagination, the history of the curiosity cabinet (or wunderkammer) stretches back to the Renaissance. Kings and wealthy merchants stocked entire rooms, with the beautiful, the bizarre, and the P.T. Barnum. Well, Barnum came later with his Fiji Mermaid and other fraudulent wonders, but the Zymoglyphic Museum exists in the same grand tradition.

What makes this museum special is the fantasy world the artist, Jim Stewart, has created. It’s multi-layered. First are the tiny worlds within each terrarium. And though they’re not all filled with cryptoids, I’m officially filing this post under the paranormal topic of cryptozoology. Second is the photo-collage world of the Zymoglyphic region where alchemists, goddesses, and steampunk priestesses collide, and the mythical source of the museum’s creatures.

The Zymoglyphic Museum is open randomly and by private appointment. But if you can’t get to San Mateo, CA, who knows? There might be a quirky cabinet of wonders not from your house.



About the Author

Kirsten Weiss is the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense, and the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical DetectiveThe Alchemical DetectiveThe Shamanic DetectiveThe Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She’s currently working on a paranormal-themed cozy mystery, The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum.

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