Review: “It Could Happen to You” at the Park Museum June 1-30, 2014
Balls, biscuits, bones. Bowls, boxes, beds. Collars, cages, leashes, toys. The list goes on. And they are all on display until midnight tomorrow at The Park Museum’s month-long exhibit marking Enforced Domestication Awareness Month.
Entitled, “It Could Happen to You,” the exhibit is the first of its kind in The Park and the first ever hosted at The Park Museum.
“We felt it was too important an event to wait for the museum’s completion,” says Sukuta Rhinoceros, as she guides me through the display cases. “We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to highlight this issue.”
One of the museum’s founders and a member of its Board of Governors, Rhinoceros spearheaded the campaign to open part of the main building’s ground floor wing for the exhibit. But come July, the construction workers will be back and if all goes well, the museum will officially open at the end of the year.
We stroll through the space together and as she details the provenance of many of the artefacts, it becomes clear that this is a deeply personal issue for Rhinoceros.
“Enforced domestication isn’t only a problem for small Animals,” she tells me later. “We were overwhelmed after we put out a call for personal items [of domestication] and I wasn’t surprised to find that the majority came from our Canine, Feline, Avian, Piscine, and Reptilian communities. But when some of our other citizens offered traps, harnesses, saddles and the like, our curator said we should put them at the front of the exhibit, so that attendees could see right away that no Animal is out of the sight line of the domesticator.”
The issue of domestication, of course, is much bigger than any museum exhibit can communicate. But “It Could Happen to You” is at its most poignant and effective when it deals with the tools that are used to entice Animals to give up their independence. The sadness and the pain lie in understanding the attraction of those tools. So many of our compatriots have suffered extreme difficulty and it is not hard to imagine succumbing to the promise of a nice meal, a warm bed, and some physical comfort.
If this exhibit accomplishes anything, let that be to remind us that we are responsible for each other and that we must work diligently to make it impossible for our fellow citizens to be tempted away from their lives in The Park.