In 2018 Mahalski moved back to his hometown and opened the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery. The Museum fills three rooms of his old Victorian house close to the center of the southern city.
Weird, beautiful – and weirdly beautiful – zoological, botanical and ethnological artefacts are artfully displayed in true Victorian collector style. Wooden glass-fronted display cases and all the walls are stuffed full of fascinating things which are explained by quirky and informative labels. Adults will be impressed but kids obviously love it too – the skulls in particular (plus it’s free for under tens and only $5 for others). There’s also a gallery featuring the curator’s unique bone art and other pieces.
“I’ve been collecting things ever since I was born in the sixties and my parents were both collectors too. I’m not a rich person. Most of the things in the Museum have been picked up over a life-time or kindly donated by friends and colleagues. Nearly everything in the Museum has some connection with the world of nature but there are also a few other interesting things that just seem to fit. I think that the labels can be almost as important as the objects themselves. I like to be able to tell people what things are and where and when they were found. If I can get a smile or two out of them too that’s an added bonus.”
Bruce Mahalski (2018)