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Glitchy’s Oddities Museum Feels like a Carnival Sideshow, But with a Prairie Spin

Friday, January 17, 2020 | Culture

By: Blair Braitenbach

When asked to contribute to Saskatoon’s only museum of oddities, how could Dave Geary say no? After all, its subject matter has played prominently in the artist’s work for decades.

Glitchy’s Oddities Museum is the brainchild of Glitch Gifts and Novelties store owner Mike Erman. As a rabid hunter of the strange and unique for as long as he can remember, Erman knew a dime store-style museum housing cryptozoology artifacts with other intriguing and fun pieces would perfectly complement his existing business. But to make it all come together, he needed a little help from his friends.

Geary was top of Erman’s mind in helping bring the museum to life with his vast knowledge and creative background within the realms of Cold War and nuclear history, as well as scientific phenomena. As such, it really was a match made in space.

“I’m interested in science, and frankly that’s the most provocative, fascinating kind – the stuff that’s on the edge where you’ve still got to explore it. To me that’s what science is all about, exploring the borderlands,” Dave Geary says.

A globally-renowned artist (some of his cartoons appeared in Robert Crumb publications) and a former University of Saskatchewan professor, one of Geary’s most recent works is his “Saskatchewan Atomic Mutant Monster Psychotronic Film Posters” series. Blending humour with eye-popping visuals to spread his anti-nuclear message, Geary says the poster art combines his love for cryptozoology and film with concerns for all things atomic related.

Drawing from these artistic and educational sensibilities, some of Geary’s finds housed in the museum include a nuclear fallout survival guide from the 1970s, a garden sprite found in Saskatoon’s City Park neigbourhood and an authentic cast of Sasquatch’s footprint obtained from Harrison Hot Springs, BC.

“There are definitely creatures we haven’t found. Bigfoot remains a mystery, but I can say this: never say no because they’re always discovering large, formerly unknown animals like a big goat or something that they didn’t think existed,” Geary notes.

It’s that mixture of historical facts, pseudoscience, whimsy and the flat out weird that makes Glitchy’s Oddities Museum such a cool place to explore. Opened a little over a year ago, sights include Sophie the Doll (a possessed toy from the 19th century), a human Zoltar cabinet that reads fortunes once a month, the ever-elusive jackalope, shrunken heads, a fossil of the “Missing Link of Manitou” and a cornucopia of other strange specimens. It’s essentially everything you’d expect to see in an old-school carnival sideshow, with a prairie spin.

“I’ve always liked dark, creepy things, and I also like the weird and wacky things in life, and I think that’s really shone through in the store. The museum sort of follows that feel. But we try and not make it too creepy,” Erman says with a laugh.

Much of Glitchy’s appeal is the sheer variety. Some of the exhibits are there to make you laugh (a fur-bearing trout), others are curiosities (an antique vending machine sporting a slightly fear-inducing clown’s head), while some are simply works of art (a “Creepy Dolls” collection, made by Erman and his wife Joanne Brothwell, which are also available are for purchase).

At the end of the day, Erman says a lot of positive feedback comes from the items that contain an element of realism. So, as it turns out the museum comes by its name honestly.

“When I was a little kid, downtown seemed like this big, wondrous, amazing place. And now it’s like ‘well I know what’s around every corner, it’s kind of small and it’s boring.’ But believing in Bigfoot and these creatures, you sort of hang on to a little piece of that wonder,” Erman says.

“I think a lot of people, whether or not they believe that doll is haunted, for instance, they want it to be. It gives people something to wonder about, and it makes things a little more interesting. I think people would be disappointed if they were to find out it wasn’t haunted.”

Geary agrees, noting the museum really taps into the public’s psyche, delivering something every inner child craves.

“A lot of it is the unknown, there’s a kind of quasi-religious attachment,” Geary explains. “People yearn for it. It’s very Carl Jungian, a collective unconscious of humans all over the world for all time.”

Taking a cue from the city of Austin, Texas, Erman is doing his part to keep Saskatoon weird. Housed in the same store, both Glitch and the Glitchy’s are a must stop for those who enjoy the quirky side of life. With a wide range of fun and hard-to-find products for sale, both local and imported, Glitch is the perfect gift shop for the weirdo in your life.

“There’s a big piece of my soul on display. People walk in here and they get a glimpse in my head for sure,” Mike says laughing.

Glitch Gifts and Novelties and Glitchy’s Oddities Museum are located at 510  33rd Street West in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.