At Home with Monsters

Mia’s latest exhibit explores the relationship between ourselves and the monsters that terrorize us

Illustrator: Ruby Guthrie

Illustrator: Ruby Guthrie

The crimson gothic archway that marks the entrance to the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s “Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters” forebodingly suggests that what lies ahead is not of this world. Passing through the threshold into the exhibit, a transformation occurs. It still feels very much like a museum, but at the same time, the surreal art, blood-red walls, and uncanny mannequins give the exhibit an otherworldly feeling.

The exhibit offers an intimate look into the vile, fantastical world of the idiosyncratic del Toro, a man deeply ensconced in the worlds of literature, art history, and film. The exhibit offers a once-in-a-lifetime look at del Toro’s personal collection of art, as well as memorabilia from his movies, and his own personal creations.

The extensive collection of artwork, props, and mannequins runs the gamut from horrific and grotesque to poignant and delicate. Eclectic in every sense of the word, one can expect to find original artwork from “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” an assortment of H.P. Lovecraft busts, the nightmarish paintings of Zdzisk?aw Beksi?ski, and inviting, yet menacing creatures from del Toro’s own works, such as The Faun from “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Though the exhibit is comprised of only five rooms, one can expect to spend hours taking it all in.

The exhibit’s design borrows inspiration from del Toro’s own Dickens-inspired estate, Bleak House, which serves as the resting place for his collection, as well as a conduit for his perverse creative energy. Walking through the exhibit is a bit like taking a journey through del Toro’s twisted yet profound psyche.

The exhibit’s curator, Gabriel Ritter, said he was initially skeptical about horror’s merit for artistic exhibition, but del Toro’s collection made him “a believer.” Although the exhibit is at times gruesome, it is also quite thoughtful. Del Toro’s works explore themes of death, fragility, and innocence, and those themes are reflected in the way he uses monsters; not as mindless obstacles or as vehicles for cheap jump scares, but as a way for us to contemplate our own humanity.

“The world of facts and the world of reality is only one half of the equation,” said Ritter “In [del Toro’s] world, and in his mind, the world of monsters is the other half of the equation—a whole other world that remains largely untapped by most of us.”