The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, the world’s only mobile museum of haunted artifacts, has launched the first-ever initiative to 3D scan and compile a database of paranormally-active objects. There’s just a couple problems: the project is confusing the ghosts and producing haunted 3D prints.
“In hindsight, I guess we should have anticipated this,” occult museum director Greg Newkirk says, “but when it comes to working with haunted artifacts in new, unexplored ways, you never know what’s going to happen. We’re attempting something that’s never been done before, laying the groundwork for future study of paranormally-active objects. There are going to be quirks we can’t see coming.”
Newkirk is referring to the unintended consequences of the Haunted Object 3D Scanning Initiative, an effort to build a comprehensive database of the world’s most haunted artifacts. Launched in February, the project has seen Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult founders Greg Newkirk and Dana Matthews scanning cursed idols, self-immolating Ouija planchettes, drums used to summon voodoo-spirits, and even a haunted mask with a habit of kickstarting out-of-body experiences. Unsurprisingly, the project is the first of its kind, combining the study of supernaturally-influenced artifacts with cutting-edge technology. But now that the project is four months in, the museum curators are discovering that it’s hard to teach an ancient spirit new tricks.
“Some objects just don’t want to be scanned,” Matthews says, gesturing to a large African idol with a history of causing intense nightmares (which they’ve nicknamed Billy). “In the case of Billy, he kept literally putting up a wall in front of his face every time we tried to scan it [see embedded video above]. We had to sit down and conduct an EVP session with him to find out he was just concerned about the scanning process; he didn’t understand what we were trying to do with him.”
Paranormal museum founder Greg Newkirk wears a haunted mask while being 3D scanned
Once the process of performing a 3D scan was explained to the idol, along with the duo’s reasons for conducting the scan, Matthews says that “Billy” finally allowed his image to be catalogued. In all, the process of scanning the haunted artifact took over thirty hours, most of which the curators say account for negotiations with the attached spirit. These types of strange hiccups aren’t uncommon, Newkirk says.
“We’ve had equipment malfunction in bizarre ways, artifacts mysteriously go missing before we can scan them, and just two weeks ago, we went to print a 3D duplicate of a haunted mask we’ve named The Fetid Face and it completely melted the printer. It destroyed the equipment.”
Newkirk and Matthews are two of a very small number of full-time paranormal investigators in the country, having spent the last twenty years researching claims of anomalous activity. The two have even seen their groundbreaking work featured on television programs like Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum, TLC’s Kindred Spirits, and Destination America’s Paranormal Lockdown, often using their collection of haunted artifacts as a research tool. To them, the study of paranormally-active objects goes beyond dusty shelves in a padlocked basement.
“Approaching anything we don’t understand with fear instead of curiosity never results in progress,” Newkirk says. “Fear is a wall between us and a deeper understanding of the world, both physical and nonphysical. There’s a lot of people who want us to be afraid of ghosts, but we don’t have any interest in spreading that kind of message. That’s an attitude that stalls paranormal research.”
In their effort to break new ground in the study of the unexplained, the duo formed the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, the world’s first museum that brings haunted, cursed, and supernaturally-significant artifacts to cities around the country. It’s also the only occult museum that allows visitors to handle the artifacts, encouraging guests to hold, photograph, and investigate the pieces for strange activity. Now the museum has launched a new way for the creeper-out and the curious to interact with the artifacts: a membership program.
Paranormal Museum founders Dana Matthews & Greg Newkirk
For the first time, you can support the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult by becoming a member of the museum, a club that provides exclusive access to video evidence collected during investigations with the artifacts, live research sessions, a monthly box of supernatural goodies, and even 3D prints of the haunted artifacts. But should you join for the 3D prints, you should know that there’s a good chance they’ve inherited some spooky traits from their parents.
“We’ve got a membership tier which gives Advisory Board members a new 3D-printed miniature of a haunted artifact we’ve scanned to the database each month, and it never fails, at least one of the prints starts to exhibit signs of paranormal activity,” Matthews says. “Members will email us and let us know that something strange is happening with their copy. Maybe it’s possible that we’ve captured more than just the image of these artifacts in the scan – maybe we’re actually capturing a bit of their essence.”
A completed 3D print of the haunted Idol of Nightmares
Matthews and Newkirk say that their plan is to eventually extend the Haunted Object 3D Scanning Initiative to other museums around the world, but for the time being, they’re busy adding hundreds of their own strange pieces to the database, even if it means dealing with melted printers and confused spirits.
“It’s not been a simple or straightforward project by any means, ” Newkirk says, “but when we’re able to bring a wider understanding of the paranormal to people, to help them investigate strange activity from a place of curiosity instead of fear, that makes all of the effort worth it.”