Our new exhibit Monster, Monster, in the Mirror explores how people create monsters to deal with their most dark and primal fears. The exhibit explores how we have turned human beings into vampires, werewolves, mashers, and even The Beast. Once a man becomes monster status he loses his humanity. That is, until now. We invite you join us and learn the sometimes tragic, sometimes inspiring, but always stranger than fiction stories that surround these men and women.
Featured in Monster, Monster, in the Mirror are both Mr. and Mrs. Gonsalvus. Long before they wed Petrus Gonsalvus had been brought to Henry II, King of France, as a birthday gift. The king's court immediately assumed this hairy boy was more monster than human They wanted him to be caged like a zoo animal for "safety." Henry II wasn't completely convinced that the boy was not a monster; still he decided to give the boy a proper education.
Petrus grew up inside the safety of the castle surrounded by doctors and teachers that were never quite sure of what to make of him. He was to them a "missing link" long before Darwin's theories sent the world into a frenzy to find missing links. The hand he was dealt certainly wasn't the greatest but it was far better than most of his physically different counterparts of the time were facing.
On July 25, 1547 Petrus' life would change forever. His guardian King Henry II passed away. His wife Catherine took control of Petrus and immediately arranged a bride for him. Catherine handpicked the bride herself to guarantee the future bride would be the most beautiful bride in all of Europe.
She hand selected a young woman named Catherine. We do not know the young Catherine's last name at this point. We do know that she was not allowed to see her future groom until their wedding. day. It went exactly how you can imagine it would. Over time, she learned to see the "Beast's" humanity and eventually fell in love with him. They had several kids before she passed away. As they say it is "a tale as old as time."
For information on the Gonsalvus family please visit the Wondertorium and check out this video from the Smithsonian Channel.