Budget ax takes forty whacks

By Bob Hicks

All right, times are tough all over. But who’d’a thunk Lizzie Borden would be getting the ax after all these years?

Lizzie Borden, ca. 1889. Wikimedia Commons.This morning’s Art Daily passes along a brief item from the Associated Press reporting that the 40 Whacks Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, is going out of business after two years: high costs, low attendance.

The museum’s existence in Salem, about 70 miles north of Fall River, where Borden was acquitted of hatcheting to death her father and stepmother in 1892, was a bit of a puzzler. But then, Salem, where Mr. Scatter briefly lived almost 40 years ago, bases a good deal of its economy on commemoration and re-creation of its past, from its witch trials to its seafaring days — so why not steal another town’s infamy?

Four or five years ago, on a visit to Massachusetts, Mr. Scatter took the Scatter family to see the house where he’d lived in old town Salem, only to discover it had been torn down to make room for the front lawn of the rebuilt Peabody Essex Museum — a very good regional museum, by the way, run by Dan Monroe, a onetime director of the Portland Art Museum. To assuage their keen disappointment, Mr. Scatter took the family to the New England Pirate Museum, where several T-shirts and a treasure map were bought.

When they saw what they had done, the Scatters cried, “The pirates won!”


PHOTO: Lizzie Borden, ca. 1889. Wikimedia Commons.