The Zymoglyphic region is a place that doesn't exist, in a time that never was. But there is nonetheless a museum devoted to it, on the western edge of Tabor near the Cheese Bar.
In a serene boarder's room above a residential garage, you can witness the self-destroying automaton, a rusted-out clock with the arm of a crab. According to the helpful caption posted next to it, this automaton was made during the Age of Wonder—the era immediately following the bird carts, leaf books and shamanic totems that were emblematic of the Rust Age—and it is "of particular interest in this time because they occupied a mysterious gray area between life and death." In another corner of the museum—near the leatherwing and the flightless spinybirds—you can visit a mermaid, who appears to be holding a comb made from the skeleton of a dead fish.
Somewhere between a natural history museum and a medieval cabinet of curiosities, the Zymoglyphic Museum is the beauteous creation of Jim Stewart—a meticulous and whimsical fictional world of found objects and curios, where carefully arranged terraria display the skeletons of creatures that never were. A software engineer in an earlier life, Stewart is a cross between a sculptor and a rogue taxidermist, making his artifacts from found, mostly biological parts.
"It all started when I was a kid," says Stewart. "I had a museum when I was 10 years old. Wax and shells and arrowheads. I've been collecting things ever since, but then I tried to do something more interesting than having a pile of rocks."
He is aided in his lifelong endeavor by his wife. "She's an artist herself—she brings me things and says, 'Zymoglyphic!'" Their shared love of found objects, he says, was a form of romantic kismet. "She actually had skulls when I first met her. She had a little shoebox labeled 'Skulls.' I thought that was a good sign."
You can visit the Zymoglyphic Museum every second Sunday at Stewart's home at 6225 SE Alder St. Admission is always free.
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