Lawrence Weschler—Archivist of the Odd, the Marvelous, the Passionate and Slightly Askew


As part of The Keepers, The Kitchen Sisters series about activist archivists, rogue librarians and keepers of the truth and the free flow of information, we query Lawrence Weschler, archivist of “the odd, the marvelous, the passionate and slightly askew.”

Lawrence Weschler leads us into the world of pronged ants, horned humans, mice on toast and other marvels of the mind of David Wilson and his “cabinet of wonder,” the Museum of Jurassic Technology. We take a deep dive into the discovery of a cache of thousands of reels of nitrate film buried under the permafrost in Dawson City, the heart of the gold rush in the Klondike, and the making of Bill Morrison’s film Frozen Time. Weschler weaves stories of memory palaces, archives of misery, the early history of museums, obsessed collectors and more.

Lawrence Weschler was a staff writer for the New Yorker for 20 years. He is a contributing editor to McSweeney’s, The Threepenny Review and The Virginia Quarterly Review.

He is the author of numerous books including Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged ants, Horned humans, Mice on Toast and other Marvels of Jurassic Technology. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin. True to Life: Twenty Five Years of Conversation with David Hockney. Waves Passing in the Night: Water Murch in the Land of Astrophysicists. And his most recent book, How Are You, Dr. Sacks?: a Biographical Memoir of Oliver Sacks.

The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson, with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell. Special thanks to our Kitchen Sisters’ production intern Grant MacHamer, for his work on this story. The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of PRX’s Radiotopia, a curated network of some of the best podcasts around.