Today Paranormal Muskegon was on location at the Montague Museum in Montague, Michigan. Having learned from their website that the museum had amongst their exhibits a couple of rather curious artifacts, we wanted to check them out in person as well as find out more about the history of the museum. The building was formerly a United Methodist Church, which was evident by the beautiful stained glass windows and high vaulted ceilings. The church was built in 1872 and sold for a nominal fee of $1.00 to the Museum Board in 1969, where it has been since then.
We met with curator, Jim Haley, who was kind enough to show us around, on this cold, drab day. To say that it is a museum actually doesn’t do it justice; it was like taking a walk back through time. It is rich with photographs, memorabilia, and exhibits galore; from the minute you walk in the door, history is evident; an Edison machine; that amazingly still works , a “Telephone Room” with the ancient phone system from the Occidental Hotel, and war relics to name just a few of the countless prizes that are in store and that pull you into their stories of old.
So there it was, one of the objects Paranormal Muskegon came to see: An authentic shrunken head, sitting quietly on a shelf just as you walk in the door. It is not a large object by any means; with its mouth and eyes tied shut, hair hanging in strands, you could walk by it just as easily, but you can almost feel its presence as you walked by it and is even more imposing once you got closer to it. It seems to watch things with sightless eyes. Jim offered to let us hold it; which we both declined. I asked Jim if anything untoward had ever happened in connection to having this head in the museum and he said not that he knew about but that he didn’t know whether or not the person who donated it had.
Jim said this particular head came from Peru and was brought back by a resident who did a lot of traveling. Information about the head stated that tribes in Peru and Equador, including the Jivaros, the Aguarunas, Humbiasas, Candosis, and Shapras tribes, practiced this “art,” up until at least 1963; although they would deny it if asked. Interestingly, these same tribes also used blowguns against their enemies and for hunting. It is said that the reason they shrunk the heads of their enemy was to prevent them from coming back and creating any sort of paranormal goings-on in the tribal community. I asked Jim about this; he said it was done as a means of taking the deceased power.
Next, Jim also showed us some skeletal remains that are housed in the basement. He said they were found when ground was broken for a new school that was being put up. It was unknown how long they had been there and to whom they belonged to; or how they had died. The only thing that has been ascertained as yet is that they are probably not of Native American ancestry, thus the museum has approval to keep the remains. An anthropologist has determined them to be of a female about 40 years old and a child. Jim said a Catholic priest had come in and said a blessing over them and said he thought it rather appropriate that the remains are at rest in the church. In looking at them in their glass case, they did seem at peace here. I felt a calmness looking at them. No restless spirits wander here at the Montague Museum: Just history, lots and lots of history.
To anyone who is unfamiliar with this museum, I highly recommend it, there is so much to look at and wonder about here. I know I plan on visiting again. The museum is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm, Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Individuals and special groups may request a guided tour by contacting the Montague City Hall at 231-893-1155. Visit http://www.montaguemuseum.org/ for more information.