Thoughts from Places: Guillermo del Toro's At Home with Monsters Exhibit

Saturday, March 10, 2018

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The outside of the Gallery advertises the exhibit!

My Trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto!

In honor of Guillermo del Toro winning Best Director at this year's Academy Awards I decided it was an appropriate time to post about the amazing exhibit of his that I saw in Toronto last October.

I did a quick over night trip up there shortly after my trip to NYC for the Turtles All The Way Down Tour (by shortly after I mean two days later. When I travel I tend to do it all at once). Toronto is only a couple hours away so despite being in a foreign country technically it is the closest BIG city to me so I go there often. I went to see a concert, and the next morning I made it my MISSION to go to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see their exhibit, Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters!

Basically, del Toro has a house that he calls the Bleak House that is filled with his collection, including everything from his props, props from his favorite movies, comics, and books. The exhibit is all things he lent from his house and was set up in its image. It was extraordinary! It was the coolest thing I have ever seen in a gallery.

The Pale Man
To get up to the exhibit they had the stairs looked like bookcases. Right away I was excited. When I went in the exhibit, there was a video of del Toro explaining what his Bleak House was and why he had to have another house for his collection (his wife doesn't want it in her house haha). Turning a corner the first thing I saw was a life size statue of the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth! What a terrifying thing to see first. I knew I would love the rest of the exhibit.

It took me a couple hours or so to walk through because there was so many rooms with so much interesting, strange, one of a kind items. The vast majority of it, to my excitement, was concept art and other treasures from del Toro's movies. Lots of life size statues of his unique creations were around every corner ready to scare the bajeezus out of me. Del Toro, of course, has many amazing and terrifying movies most of which had something on display. The Shape of Water, the movie that just won the Oscar for del Toro wasn't yet out so there wasn't any of that, of course. Another unique feature was the interactive displays that featured copies of del Toro's sketch books and journals! This was a fascinating look into the mind of such a brilliant storyteller.
The Crimson Peak section of the Exhibit was my favorite!!

My favorite movie of del Toro's is Crimson Peak which is the biggest reason I went. It is half set in Victorian Era Buffalo and is a twist on the classic Victorian trope, starring four of my favorite actors: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Jim Beaver!! I adore every single thing about it and now that I'm thinking about it I should probably write a review for it! The exhibit had some of the props and costumes from the movie and it was fascinating to see them up close. I loved seeing the tea set and Enola's key! Oh and the dresses!! They had two of Lucille's magnificent gowns as well as my favorite of the exhibit's Edith's dressing gown that even had all the stains on the bottom!!!!!! (Sorry for the exclamation overload, I'm still excited months later!)

The bust of Dickens that del Toro wrote on!
Other than things from his own movies, del Toro has a lot of other amazing things in his collection. He had original art from several Disney movies, Victorian mourning objects, Victorian portraits that would change as you looked at them from normal to creepy, a Shrine to Charles Dickens including a bust that del Toro wrote on the back of, crystal balls, vintage vampire hunting kits were among some of my favorite things! Del Toro also loves Frankenstein. He has a HUGE head of Frankenstein's Monster that greets visitors to his Bleak House when it is back at home. For the exhibit it was at the entrance to the room that held del Toro's Frankenstein collection, which included life size statues and wallpaper made of the many covers of the famous book. There was a room devoted to del Toro's comic book collection with copies on a big table that visitors were invited to sit down and read.

Besides all of that amazing stuff my favorite non-Crimson Peak parts of the exhibit was the atmosphere created by being around so many odd things in one place and the fact that there was a woman playing the scores of del Toro's films in one of the rooms that echoed eerily throughout the entire exhibit. All except one in one room: the rain room, which is exactly what it sounds like. Guillermo del Toro set up a room in his Bleak House that has the sounds of a thunderstorm raging outside that he works in! I decided right there and then that before I die I need to have a room like that because I too work best when I'm listening to rain. He even has it so that when you look out the “windows” you can see the rain lashing at the panes! In this exhibit there was a caged in bookcase lined with old books and a life size wax figure of Edgar Allan Poe (something else that I never knew I kinda wanted).
Poe in the Rain Room!

I loved my time at Guillermo del Toro's Bleak House. I was in awe for almost the entire time as well as properly creeped out. I haven't seen The Shape of Water yet but I can't wait to. I am so excited and happy for him on his Oscar win as I believe he is one of the most creative and interesting people alive. I am so glad I got to see that small glimpse into how he spends his time, as it was a truly unique experience to have someone donate most of their property to a gallery while they are still living! Thank you, sir, for allowing it to be on display for your fans to see, and congratulations on you well deserved Oscar!!