Special to the Press
BRISTOL- In her 15 years in the museum industry, Morgan Urgo has always had the idea of doing an exhibit on tattooing in the back of her mind. It wasn’t until she was at New England Carousel Museum that she was able to put that dream into action.
The museum is bringing INK: The History and Ritual of Tattoo & Body Art to Bristol this August. However, it needs donations to make the exhibit the best it can be.
To raise money, Urgo, the museum manager, set up an online fundraiser on indiegogo.com. It started July 10 and will continue until August 10. The museum hopes to raise $2,500.
“We wanted to be able to do the exhibit the right way,” said Urgo.
The museum manager and another museum employee, Harmony Chamberlain Harrington, co-curated the event. They wanted to make sure they paid for the rights for all the images they use and that the owners of those images receive credit.
They also wanted to ensure that they cover the full scope of tattooing history, from prehistoric times to World War II.
Those who make donations will have the opportunity to receive certain perks, such as limited edition postcards, T-shirts, their name in the exhibit and admission to a VIP reception.
The museum has already received over $300 in donations. Several members of the tattooing community have also volunteered their expertise and memorabilia.
One man is offering to display his collection of tattooing tools that date from the paleolithic times to the 1950s. Another tattoo artist is doing a 4 by 8 panel on how spirituality intersects with body art. Even the logo for the exhibition was donated by Andrew Morrow, a local graphic artist.
This is the first time that the New England Carousel Museum is doing an exhibit like this. Usually the museum does exhibits featuring individual artists.
INK will be the first exhibit that is self-created by the museum’s staff and will be one of their largest.
Tattooing fits in with the museum’s overall theme well, Urgo said. It connects with the Harley Davidson raffle they do in May because biker culture often includes tattoos. It also relates to the tattooed circus performers who work alongside carousels, which is the museum’s main focus.
“It’s interesting how much overlap there is with what we do here,” said Urgo.
In addition to tattooed circus performers, the exhibit will explore henna tattooing from India, tattooing tools and trade, traditional Japanese tattooing, military tattoos and more.
“Tattooing has such a wide scope. It touches every continent and every civilization,” said Urgo.
There will also be a lot of interesting surprises, such as that tattooing was originally done on women by women in many cultures.
“It was a female dominated practice in a lot of places,” Urgo said. In Egypt and in many tribes tattooing was limited to only the women.
Though the exhibit will include some heavier subject matter, such as the tattooing of Holocaust victims and scarification of slaves, there will be nothing graphic. It is still kid-friendly, said Urgo.
“It’s going to be a show that is really different and exciting and touch on a subject matter that hits a lot of people’s interest,” Urgo said.
Even people who thought they had no interest in tattoos will find something intriguing, Urgo added.
INK: The History and Ritual of Tattoo & Body Art will open on Saturday, August 19, with a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The exhibit will run until March, 2018. Visitors to the exhibition can also see the rest of the museum as part of the $6 ticket price.
To donate visit www.thecarouselmuseum.org/upcoming-exhibitions .