To call Viktor Wynd an author, artist and collector barely scratches the surface of his bon vivant persona or his charismatic eccentricities. Founder and proprietor of Hackney, London’s The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & UnNatural History and its upstairs absinthe cocktail bar, Wynd has a career that’s a labor of love—one that was upended by the pandemic. From his cottage in the English countryside (with no neighbors in sight), surrounded by oddities both living and inanimate, Wynd plotted a return and now channels his magic into The Last Tuesday Society digital series with unusual events several times per week.
“Everything I’ve ever done with my life has involved bringing people together in social situations so that we all can communicate,” Wynd tells us. “Last year, my world disappeared. Everything I had been working on couldn’t happen.” Wynd immersed himself in his studio art, working with bronze and porcelain. All the while, he ruminated on ways to rekindle his 20 years of event planning. It was when an old friend, Joanna Ebenstein, founder and creative director of Morbid Anatomy in New York, told Wynd that they’d moved their events online that he skeptically took up the challenge.
“It’s been the most amazing thing because I’ve found an audience that I never knew I’d be able to reach,” he says. “I’ve got people attending from around the world that might not have been able to make it to the museum.” As for how he maintains the magical reputation of his in-person events, he jokingly says, “I haven’t got a clue.” But he’s quick to remind us that he’s been tapping into his imagination to program talks for 20 years.
One specific example of Wynd’s whimsy underscores how personal—intimate even—the new series is. “I do fairytales and storytelling,” he explains. “I know several thousand by heart and I’ve been telling them live around the world for years. I now do this as bedtime stories for grownups. I do them at 9PM on a Sunday. We start off with a nightcap—a cup of cocoa or a glass whisky—and we have a live chat, between the audience and me. Then I instruct everyone to get into bed and lie down and I tell them stories.” One should not be surprised to learn that this allows for a far more curious question-and-answer session at the end.
Further, Wynd’s upcoming roster will certainly titillate fans of the occult. “We’ve got a wonderful workshop on conjuring. The teacher is based in Norfolk and it’s normally a four-week class. He’s developed this class, designed for a very small audience on Zoom, using household objects for magic tricks. We’ve also got a class on using sigils. So there’s conjuring magic and real magic. We’ve also got a talk on contemporary Satanic feminism by Per Faxneld.”
Two repeat speakers will likely to continue to garner interest. First, filmmaker John Waters will return for a Zoom conversation. Their previous discussion was an undeniable highlight. “John Waters is an old friend of mine and a longtime supporter of the museum,” Wynd says. “We’d done things in the past, at the museum. We even have a piece by him there. He doesn’t like Zoom, but he did it out of incredible generosity.”
Ronald Hutton, the beloved professor and historian of folklore, as well as pre-Christian religion and Contemporary Paganism, will also return for a conversation on ritual nudity and discovering the modern goddess. “He’s been so kind and generous to the museum with his time,” Wynd says. Hutton’s talks continue to find enthralled audiences.
Wynd’s digital programming carries the spiritual torch of his in-person events so acutely because they’re deeply personal to him. “I wanted to make a different world, you see,” he says of his overall mission. “I don’t like the world as it is. I don’t like its priorities, what it is or what it does. And, you can sit and moan or you can try to create something that is what you want for yourself. All I am doing is following my own interests. It’s a furthering of education and a journey.”
As for the museum, the online events are offering a bit of a lifeline to the physical space but Wynd is still concerned for its survival. “I am amazed that we’ve survived to where we are today and that’s thanks to the online talks in many ways. Hopefully, though, we will open again later this year.” Until then, a schedule of Wynd’s talks and lectures, with sliding scale and donation-based pricing, can be accessed through The Last Tuesday Society calendar. Anyone who registers to attend also receives a recording of the session, even if they miss the live event.
Hero image courtesy of Oskar Proctor