Collectors of the Curious: The Millennial Generation and the Thrill of the Hunt

Hello everyone- I have not posted in a while! I was at first busy with wedding preparations, then busy with finding a job after the wedding, and am now currently busy with sed new job. Today I am home with a cold, hunkered down with a cup of tea and trying to dispel my cabin fever with a blog post!

A few weeks ago the new Guardians of the Galaxy film was released, along side with the opening of the ride in Disneyland. Like any faithful Annual Pass holder, my husband and I were on the ride within the first week of opening, braving a long line with no dinner in IMG_0468_2.jpgour stomachs and some very hunger derived bad attitudes. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the ride and I will not include any spoilers here for the actual ride itself- just go and enjoy!

I did have a moment of retrospective thought leading up to the ride while lingering in the waiting area inside of the building itself, I suppose based off of several observations made lately in my life. The style is very engrossing, based off of the ‘collector’ character from the first GOTG film, with display cases of items from all over the galaxy in the Marvel universe. It has a very distinctive feel, that to myself, harkens back to a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ aesthetic. The guests in line with us were enthralled, gawking at the disturbing, taking videos of the pulsating, and anxiously reading the captions underneath the strange.

cabinetofc.jpgLet us quickly touch on the concept of a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ to ensure that my association is made clear. A cabinet of curiosity is more broadly defined as a collection of items curated due to their mystery, strangeness, and lack of precise understanding or identification. Most modern museums were built upon foundations of private collections such as these, many of the objects being remnants from old explorers and their glory days abroad. Today in the museum world, ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’ is a highly negative word, especially in Europe and the UK. Associations with a private collection kept from the public for the elite to gawk at over drinks while simultaneously offending indigenous peoples does not sit comfortably with academics anymore… and this is a good thing!

Having said that, the aesthetic of this type of display as well as the arousal for a museum visitor cannot be denied. We now know what is wrong, and inappropriate, but in my opinion the fixation for seeking out the unknown has only increased exponentially. Consider for a moment the last time you did not know the answer to a question- you slid your phone from your pocket and tapped the internet app and had your answer seconds later. In our world today, unknowns do not go unknown for very long on an elementary every day level. The thrill of the unknown has to be satisfied in different ways; films, movies, and the appeal of a carefully crafted environment, a curated environment if you will, which has become more relevant as of late.


I am not especially fond of the millennial generation (the generation I belong too), but I do have appreciations for some of our emerging characteristics. I recently expressed an interest in obtaining some old vinyl records of my mothers, stating that, “I will buy a turntable if I have some vinyl albums, because then it will be worth it to have one, and to add to the collection.” My mom then said that it was a feature common of my generation- we want to collect things. I thought about it- and, I do want to collect things. Not just things, but odd things, vintage things, expensive things, and things that others around me do not have. The millennial generation has sent craft beer and wine sales through the roof, popularized local artists on sites such as Etsy, and revived old mediums long thought to have dies out. We want to travel off of the beaten tourist paths, and develop new business ideas. We want to do all of this, take pictures of ourselves in the process, and then post it online. We are a generation of explorers and curators in many ways, and are slowly becoming real throwbacks. Instead of us posing next to a lion carcass with a hunting rifle we are posting photos of ourselves with famous people or coveted limited edition purses. Different prey, but hunting nonetheless- just saying!

Yet in the midst of this all, other changes are occurring, and I feel that there is a fundamental gap. Everything is OK, and we tell people ‘you do you’ on a daily basis. I shock.jpegagree with the part that people should be able to express themselves in the ways that they want, have the jobs they want, and live the lifestyles they want, but I see individuals missing the gap that it is not all about us as individuals. This is similar to the Victorian explorer mentality, but we should know better. Millennial individuals living in their curated lives miss the concept that decisions we make impact others, and as much as the millennial generation vocalizes that they understand this concept, the words do not always bridge the gap. We know that shrinking heads is obviously wrong, but we will pay obscene amounts of money to actually see a shrunken head- human nature, yet such an interesting dichotomy, don’t you think?

It was not long ago that I heard an individual express confusion, anger, and disappointment that a human body was taken off of a display, and that they could not see it. In the wake of acceptance, there is a lack of consideration for ethics when it comes to groups that are different. We want to be shocked, weirded out, and to see something different- but how do we do that in a world where nothing is off limits or offline?

Weather you agree with my not so well plotted out thoughts or not, the world has picked up on this type of aesthetic. I think back to the Guillermo Del Toro exhibition I visited and reviewed at the LACMA last August, and it was completely in line with what I have gallery wallwritten above… granted we can all appreciate and acknowledge the unique mind of Del Toro, the attendance was through the roof- both frequent museum goers, and first time visitors being equally enthusiastic. But that is just it- it was strange, odd, new, and displayed in a cabinet of curiosity style that accentuated its oddness. Tenuous as it might seem, it has been seeping out into our homes as well with the popularized gallery wall frequently now seen in home decor. Or even bookshelves filled with not just books, but odd nic nacs. I have gone along with these trends, even as I sit here and type I can see out of the corner of my eye the third display bookcase I erected yesterday- how comedic!

All in all, I do not necessarily think this is all a terrible thing. Perhaps as the generation matures, so will our consideration of others and each other. But as usual, I am probably reading way too much into all of this. Oh well- it distracted me from my head cold for an hour nonetheless! Thanks for joining me on this bumpy journey of odd scribblings.


Peace and long life.

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