The Obscuratorium – Port Richey, Florida - Atlas Obscura

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The Obscuratorium

Port Richey, Florida

An author's private collection of quirky travel-trinkets and oddities has become a rotating mini-museum in the window of a local bookstore. 


What do you do when your home starts overflowing with strange, curious, and possibly cursed objects? If you’re author Joshua Ginsberg of Tampa, you reach out to a used bookstore to create a mini-museum window display. 

During the research for his books, Ginsberg accumulated a trove of trinkets and memorabilia from the various places he visited throughout Florida and the southeastern United States. Not wanting to part with these items, but also not wanting them to continue to pile up in his home office, he proposed the idea of creating “The Obscuratorium” to Joaner Hempsworth, who owns The Paperback Exchange bookstore. Hempsworth was both intrigued and enthusiastic about the idea. 

Ginsberg, a self-described “Atlas Obscura Superfan” and contributor, thought the name of his mini-museum would be an appropriate homage. Among the objects currently on display are postcards, tiki mugs, and various items from other Atlas Obscura sites including Coral Castle, Whimzeyland, Hong Kong Willie, Dinosaur World, and the Weeki Wachee Mermaids. Several items on display, including a can of Vimto and an absinthe spoon, relate to the unusual food and drink Ginsberg has consumed after discovering them via Gastro Obscura.

Another portion of the display highlights items from “The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt” (aka “GISH”), which is an annual event hosted by actor/author Misha Collins, as a means of leveraging creativity to make a positive impact on the world.

Perhaps most interesting and unique among the objects currently on display is “Olga the Haunted Doll,” from England, which Ginsberg won in an online contest from Mysterious Adventure Tours. According to the author/curator, “Florida is no stranger to allegedly haunted dolls. Robert the Doll, which is on display in Key West Florida, is arguably second only to Annabelle in fame, and served as the inspiration for Chucky of the Child’s Play movies.” Ginsberg admits that a strong motivation to create the Obscuratoriun was, “to get the doll out of the house—my wife was pretty unthrilled with it being in our home.”

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October 12, 2021

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