The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia encourages the public to appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease. The Museum displays its preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a 19th-century "cabinet museum" setting. In addition to long-term displays, museum staff organize short-term exhibitions and commission artists to make work inspired by museum holdings.
The College of Physicians commissioned the production of a new film by London-based, identical twin brothers and filmmakers Stephen and Timothy Quay, known for their stop-motion animation techniques and mesmerizing imagery. The Quays utilized various anomalies and curiosities from the medical collections of the Mütter Museum and the College's Historical Medical Library to create a quasi-documentary that evokes the macabre essence of the museum: Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting (Limbos & Afterbreezes in the Mütter Museum). Composer Timothy Nelson scored the film with voice-overs by Derek Jacobi. The film presentation was was paired with an exhibition at the Mütter Museum about the making of the film, guest-curated by Barbara London, associate curator in the department of media and performance art at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition included a behind-the-scenes film by Ed Waisnis about the Quay Brothers' venture.
Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting (Limbos & Afterbreezes in the Mütter Museum) saw its world premiere on September 22, 2011 at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The event was followed by additional premiere screenings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on September 24, 2011 and SONY Pictures Studios' Cary Grant Theater on September 27, 2011, hosted by the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Los Angeles. Each screening was followed by a moderated conversation with the Quay Brothers. The film, scored by composer Timothy Nelson with voice overs by Derek Jacobi, is available for DVD purchase with an accompanying booklet.
Identical twin brothers and filmmakers Stephen and Timothy Quay were born outside of Philadelphia in 1947 and studied illustration at the Philadelphia College of Art, now The University of the Arts, before going on to the Royal College of Art in London. The Quays are known for their stop-motion animation techniques and mesmerizing imagery and they have created multiple short and feature-length films, as well as music videos and television commercials. Other commissioned films besides Through the Weeping Glass include Anamorphosis (1991), The Phantom Museum (2003), and Inventorium of Traces (2009).
Watch clips of the Quays Brothers' past work in this reel selected by the Quays and edited by Edward Waisnis. (Copyright © 2009 Quay Brothers. All rights reserved.)