In 1999, the exhibition Witnesses to a Surrealist Vision was installed in a discreet small gallery within the Menil Collection’s galleries of Surrealist art. The exhibition was conceived by Edmund Carpenter and the museum’s director, Paul Winkler, and quickly became one of the museum’s most memorable rooms. Carpenter proposed that the installation represents a collection of objects once owned, or similar to those, by many of the Surrealists themselves, and offers a window into the workings of the Surrealist consciousness. This “cabinet of curiosities” comprises over 100 objects of Native American and Oceanic art, found objects, mundane curios, maps, astrolabes, taxidermied birds, and numerous other images, which metaphorically personify aspects of Surrealist thought.
The exhibition remains on long-term view at The Menil Collection, with objects from its installation occasionally rotating. More information and images of the installation can be viewed at the museum’s website: https://www.menil.org/collection/5137-witnesses