The Museum of Whales You Will Never See | Granta Books

  • Published: 02/07/2020
  • ISBN: 9781783785933
  • Granta Books
  • 272 pages

The Museum of Whales You Will Never See

A. Kendra Greene

Welcome to Iceland, a very small nation with a very large number (two hundred and sixty five) of (mostly) very small museums.

Founded in the backyards of houses, begun as jokes or bets or memorials to lost friends, these museums tell the story of an enchanted island where bridges arrived only at the beginning of the 20th century, and waterproof shoes only with the second world war. A nation formerly dirt poor, then staggeringly rich, and now building its way to affluence once again. A nation where, in the remote and wild places, you might encounter still a shore laddie, a sorcerer or a ghost.

From Reykjavík’s renowned Phallological Museum to a house of stones on the eastern coast; from the curious monsters which roam the remote shores of Bíldudalur to a museum of whales which proves impossible to find, here is an enchanted story of obsession, curation, and the peculiar magic of this isolated island.

A delightful, lyrical tribute to those who gather, record and preserve. This is a book brought to life by its own subject matter: by curiosity, obsession and the desire to share with others our own sense of wonder

Malachy Tallack, author of, The Valley at the Centre of the World

With each chapter Greene circles around her subject as if viewing it in a vitrine, approaching it from different angles, changing her register and voice. The book is shot through with glee and irreverence... Greene's mind doesn't move in lines, either curved or straight, but in weaves and knots, new threads radiating from each tangle of concepts...delightfully looping, oracular, faux naif; The Museum of Whales You Will Never See is work not of cataloguing and curating, but of longing and love


The Author

A. Kendra Greene began her museum career marrying text to the exhibition wall, painstakingly, character by character, each vinyl letter trembling at the point of a bonefolder. She became an essayist during a Fulbright grant in South Korea, finished her MFA at the University of Iowa as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow, and then convinced the Dallas Museum of Art they needed a Writer in Residence. Of late, she is a Visiting Artist at the Nasher Sculpture Center and a Library Innovation Lab Fellow at Harvard University.

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A. Kendra Greene on

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

The Museum of Whales You Will Never See

A. Kendra Greene

‘The Icelandic Phallological Museum is smaller than you’d think. The domestic collection of 212 specimens fits in one room.’