From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Every now and then, a book comes along that's almost impossible to categorize, like Hoke's beautifully illustrated gem, a strange marriage of alchemical lore and psychology, science and "wonder." Hoke, an artist and a senior exhibition designer at California's Monterey Bay Aquarium, writes that the eclectic museums and curiosity cabinets of the 1600s inspired him, and that he wants to return us to a time before "science became a belief system unto itself," a time when artist-alchemist-scientists were able to search for inner truth via mystical experiences and experiments without being ridiculed. Guided by the Greek muses and lured by his lovely color illustrations, readers are beckoned into seven "exhibition halls," named for the stages of alchemical transformation from base matter to divinely inspired knowledge. Each exhibit also includes a pull-out interactive paper model, such as a "Do-It-Yourself Model of the Universe" in chapter one, where Hoke playfully addresses various creation myths. The chapter on dream states, visions and hypnosis is particularly fascinating. This is a book to linger over; it gradually reveals itself as a sly philosophical meditation on human consciousness, bringing in concepts from Tibetan Buddhism and quantum physics.
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"A celebration of the human mind. A quirky, graphical telling of the story of everything and ourselves as the principal actors in its drama. A cabinet of curiosities brimming with marvels, astonishments, and revelations. Consistently wise in its recognition that humor is the gateway to the profound, and how beer has shaped the major philosophies of the world. For all you seekers of truth, this book is better than a pair of transcendent socks, wiser than an oracular muffin and more entertaining than a whistling oyster." -------.........-— Brian Froud, author of Lady Cottington's pressed Fairy Book
“The Museum of Lost Wonder is one of the most imaginative books ever to appear. I liked it that much. It is filled with magic, mysticism, science, and art all delightfully accurate and portrayed from the point of view of a child discovering the world for the first time. By reading it and following the guides to building models, you will discover the magic that may be missing in your life today. Don't miss the opportunity.”—Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.,
Is this activity book aimed at the kind of child ,who is a hip curator ,with a working knowledge of alchemical symbolism and chaos magic, a fortean bent and an urge for mystic self transformation?
....You'd expect to find it in the gift shop of LA's Museum of Jurassic Technology, or maybe turning up as a Maguffin in a Tim Powers novel. Who might constitute an audience for something as left field as this is a mystery. It restores your faith in publishers that any would put out such a beautiful volume of such thorough-going eccentricity.
.....The book comprises seven chapters, or gallelies, named after stages of the alchemical process and full of stuff about museums, aIchemy and science, looked at from a very strange perspective. There are beautiful illustrations throughout, and each chapter comes ,with a cut-out model to illustrate the ideas it contains -the Universe, a scrying pendulum, a hypnotrope (a sort of dream machine) and other entertaining things that ,will end up cluttering my office shelves, given half a chance. As you progress through the galleries, you take a transformative journey, exploring ideas, doing little hands.on experiments, trying quizzes and generally entertaining yourself. This, could, of course, have gone terribly New Age, but the tone remains playfully hermetic and its ideas are laced wirh cheerful humour. Fulcanelli ,would have kept it in his bathroom. There are diversions into the history and nature of cabinets of curiosity, DIY creation myths, cartoons, instructions in creating visions, and visitor surveys that ask questions such as "Do you believe scientists have souls? Do you believe they might have souls but haven't found them yet? Do you believe that scientists believe they have souls, but are too embarrassed to talk about them with their colleagues?"This is one man's vision of the Universe, incorporating his pet obsessions into an amusing, surprisingly coherent and entertaining whole -huge fun!
/////I started writing this review in a train full of science communicators, who promptly nicked the book and passed it about with exclamations of joy...You may see exhibits based on it at a science centre near you! We need more books like this please. ke awe that lays dormant in all adults. He understands our need for secret societies, lost treasure, magic charms, and true callings. ...................................................................................— Ian Simmons -Fortean Times
“Part do-it-yourself picture book, part fantastical history of science exhibition, The Museum of Lost Wonder demonstrates the strangeness of the everyday. Jeff Hoke deploys the seven stages of alchemy to order a material universe that embraces quantum physics to phrenology, the memory theater of the ancients to Descartes’ cross-eyed girl. Along the way, our synaptic pathways get rearranged; we’re encouraged to make surprising connections, to move from mere pattern recognition to the fabrication of imaginative scenes.” —Barbara Maria Stafford, Professor of Art History, University of Chicago, author of Devices of Wonder.
As the chair of the Museum Studies program, I find The Museum of Lost Wonder to be a critical text for students. It champions the core foundation (that currently has been lost) of the business of all museums: to promote wonderment, questioning, imagination, marvel, humor, curiosity... all the key elements that make us human.” —Polly McKenna-Cress, Department of Museum Studies, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA.
"The Search for Wonder Ends Here. " —Ode Magazine
" —Ode Magazine
Close your eyes and picture a building that only exists in your imagination. You can see the scale of its walls, as you stand in front, and see Egyptian influences in the vast portico. The sculptures which flank the front walk show dragons, not Egyptian, but rather European in style. There are hints of Greek design, maybe some Buckminster Fuller in the central dome. The doors are tall and heavy, and open onto a grand entranceway all marble with inlaid patterns on the floor. This foyer leads to seven halls. In each hall lie the secrets of the ages, some answers, some suggestions, perhaps even more questions . The door to the first hall is marked Calcination; it is the Hallway of Technology where the exhibit is entitled "The Beginning of Everything." I suppose it's best to begin at the beginning. Here creation tales are told from the "Big Bang" to the "Genesis Myth," "Alternative Theories" and a "Creation Myth from Kabbalah" are each described with drawing, circles and arrows and notes. Compare and contrast. Ponder. There are activities to try, including a "Do-It-Yourself Creation Myth," And who hasn't wanted to do that! There's even a cut-out build it yourself model of the expanding universe. The hall itself is larger than you would expect. Obviously, you seriously underestimated the incredible length and breadth of this building when you stood outside. How can the ceiling be that high? How can there be six more halls equivalent to this? Just move on to the next one. Visit Solution, "the hypnotic world of water where one's worries and cares are washed away in this realm of living wonder;" or move to Coagulation. the Zoological Garden. They are every bit as spectacular as the first room
Close your eyes and picture a building that only exists in your imagination. You can see the scale of its walls, as you stand in front, and see Egyptian influences in the vast portico. The sculptures which flank the front walk show dragons, not Egyptian, but rather European in style. There are hints of Greek design, maybe some Buckminster Fuller in the central dome. The doors are tall and heavy, and open onto a grand entranceway all marble with inlaid patterns on the floor. This foyer leads to seven halls. In each hall lie the secrets of the ages, some answers, some suggestions, perhaps even more questions
The door to the first hall is marked Calcination; it is the Hallway of Technology where the exhibit is entitled "The Beginning of Everything." I suppose it's best to begin at the beginning. Here creation tales are told from the "Big Bang" to the "Genesis Myth," "Alternative Theories" and a "Creation Myth from Kabbalah" are each described with drawing, circles and arrows and notes. Compare and contrast. Ponder. There are activities to try, including a "Do-It-Yourself Creation Myth," And who hasn't wanted to do that! There's even a cut-out build it yourself model of the expanding universe. The hall itself is larger than you would expect. Obviously, you seriously underestimated the incredible length and breadth of this building when you stood outside. How can the ceiling be that high? How can there be six more halls equivalent to this? Just move on to the next one. Visit Solution, "the hypnotic world of water where one's worries and cares are washed away in this realm of living wonder;" or move to Coagulation. the Zoological Garden. They are every bit as spectacular as the first roomIn Jeff Hoke's new book, The Museum of Lost Wonder you will experience all this and more. You will turn each heavy, slick page, each one filled with drawings and text guaranteed to make you ponder something imponderable. Some of you will find answers, some will be surprised by the mysteries, others will simply admire the mind and work that went into the development of this volume. My wife looked at it and said, "What an odd book!" I tried reading it like a regular linear book, and was lost. But then I wondered, what about dipping into it here and there, just as you would in a "real" museum. And since then I pick it up regularly, wander into one of the seven halls, and check out the exhibits. Whether I spend a few minutes searching the heavens, or a half hour reading up on the four "humors" (phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric and melancholic) each visit is worth the trip.Haven't built any of the models yet, I'm not one of those who likes to cut pages out of a book. I can't help it, it's the way I was raised. But it doesn't stop me from unfolding the model pages and admiring the design, colour and content. There's a Hypnotrope in the Observatory, a Theatre of the Mind in the Garden, and a Muse-a-um in the Mausoleum of History. Each hall has a playground with activities, experiments, and much, much more.Jeff Hoke designs museum exhibits, and he put his talents to work to create one of the year's most fascinating books. As it says in the jacket blurb, this is "not just a book, it's an experience." The Museum of Lost Wonders is a portable feast, an imaginative challenge to the reader, and more than a little fun! Your ticket is right there on the front jacket, it says "ADMIT ONE . . . everything you need is inside." Well, bring your imagination! ........— David Kidney, .. The Greenman Review
“ Jeff Hoke’s The Museum of Lost Wonder is a soulful delight—an alchemical workbook designed to remap the connections between science and poetry, matter and psyche, philosophy and comic books.” ......................................................................................... —Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis and The Visionary State
"This informative guide, with its sharp graphic illustrations and hands-on activities to stimulate the imagination, presents a fresh way to approach many of the oldest questions pondered by mankind. I was impressed to see how Jeff Hoke was able to bring these ideas to life through paper. He has truly put the ‘wonder’ in this Wunkerkammen of the mind!" ... ...................... —Robert Sabuda, author of Winter's Tale
Who are we? Why are we here? What happens after death? What is the meaning of life? Jeff Hoke doesn't know either, but as curator of The Museum of Lost Wonder, he's just as curious as you are. And if you're not curious, the Museum is here at last to remedy that situation. Go inside quickly.
The Museum of Lost Wonder has been under construction and open to public perusal for some time. Most of the material has been previously released as black-and-white pamphlets, and some of the grander, full-color displays are available for interactive walkthroughs online for visitors wanting to wander off the written page. But this is the first time all the museum's displays have been available in their full glory to a mass market.
Hoke is a professional museum designer by trade, and it shows in the masterful structure of The Museum of Lost Wonder. The book feels more like a real museum than any text should, with rooms roughly based on alchemical principals, covering the evolution of the universe and everything in it through the alchemical process. There are displays, illuminations and elaborate make-it-yourself models that leave even frequent readers with an inescapable feeling of unexamined rooms and updating displays forever awaiting exploration. Those displays that are visible are gorgeous and always challenging. There are impossible photographs, like the baby dragon's skull, watercolor portraits of a strange wooden cipher-life form called Gnomon, a Tibetan Wheel of Life and the eternally unknowable condensed to black-and-white symbols. As in any good museum, the art is integral to the discussion, not merely a digression.
Besides the immediately captivating displays and experiments, Hoke papers his rooms with essays referencing traditions from Atlantis to America, but never presumes to tell visitors which, if any, theories they should believe. This is a place to honor wonder, not just knowledge. It's possible, maybe even desirable, to leave the museum more confused than when you entered. But with experiments, arguments and new universes pouring out of the halls, it's not possible to leave the museum bored.
The Museum of Lost Wonder is not for everyone, or even for every day. For those bored souls who think pictures mean a book is for children, or those only comfortable with knowledge in its more concrete and tested forms, or just those practical moments when you need to wash the dishes and get food on the table and the kids out the door before the bus comes, the Museum won't do. But for those who still dizzy themselves staring into the sky or see dinner as a grand chemistry experiment, and perhaps most of all for those horrible days when the bus has come and gone because you just can't find any point to getting on for one more ride, The Museum of Lost Wonder is more than an answer. It's an adventure. ............................................................. .... ................................. ........... .......— Sarah Meador - Rambles.NET
The Museum of Lost Wonder is a book with a mission, simply stated: To illuminate life’s mysteries. The execution is nearly indescribable. Think McSweeney’s production values and design pyrotechnics. Think traditional esoteric symbols in a childhood garden of wonder. Think graphic novel and an adult version of the coolest activity book ever made. And you’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood.
Jeff Hoke has created a history of the human imagination with visual cues and clues and wonderment about and around everything you ever thought and everything you wish you’d been crafty enough to think. He has built a museum accessible to all, in book format, arranged with 7 halls (representing the seven stages of alchemical process) in which the questions of the universe unfold. All one needs to enter is some basic understanding of the human experience. Open The Museum of Lost Wonder, and step into an alternative world full of beautiful drawings, interesting historical tidbits, thoughtful challenges to common myths, and projects and pursuits to complete at home. Pages pull out with cutouts for building models. Hoke’s museum is graphic novel meets quantum physics meets mythical journey meets spirit. Hoke begins with The Calcinatio Hall where the featured exhibit is The Beginning of Everything and leads us into halls like The Sublimatio Hall, with the exhibit How To Have Visions. In The Separatio Hall the exhibit Where Are You Going challenges us in our own journey. Through each hall we are led into an exhibit that questions our own understanding of life and urges us into new ways of thinking. As in wandering the great, immense halls of an ancient museum with endless corridors and fascinating exhibits, the reader is instantly pulled into this enormously imaginative pursuit. Each page is full of depth and questions. And each hall features a special fold-out interactive page.
The Museum of Lost Wonder is a ray of hope in a dreary world. It is an oasis in an age when we are inundated everywhere we go with messages of consumption and materialism. It is an invitation into the imagination of a brilliant artist as well as a welcome back into your own imagination. It is a call to challenge your mind and your mind’s eye to re-assess what you believe to be true and what you know to be true. Once you enter the museum, there is no turning back. For the price of admission you get a whole new perspective on the meaning of life and your purpose in it.
About the Author
Jeff Hoke is a senior designer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Previously he worked as an exhibit designer for the Field Museum in Chicago. He lives in Monterey, California.