Guillermo del Toro's house of curios

Sculptures of Guillermo del Toro's film monsters made for the exhibit.
Sculptures of Guillermo del Toro's monster characters from his films were specially made for the exhibit. This is the Pale Man from "Pan's Labyrinth."
Euan Kerr | MPR News

If you're looking for some out-of-the ordinary home decorating tips, you might want to check out the Minneapolis Institute of Art's new show.

"Guillermo del Toro: At home with Monsters" features some 500 objects from the horror movie director's home. Del Toro, the maker of such movies as "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth," uses his huge collection of strange objects to inspire his work.

Gabriel Ritter, Mia's contemporary art curator, said horror isn't really his thing. But examining creativity and its inspirations certainly is, and that's what the show is about.

Another popular del Toro character is the Faun from Pan’s Labyrinth.
Another popular del Toro character is the Faun from "Pan's Labyrinth," shown here with a small friend in the show.
Euan Kerr | MPR News

The galleries are filled with objects from del Toro's Los Angeles home, which is called Bleak House.

It's full of really weird things: there's artwork, movie props, comic books, natural history specimens, and an unnerving number of medical models.

There's also del Toro himself, talking on video about why everything in Bleak House is important to him.

MIA curator of contemporary art Gabriel RItter
Minneapolis Institute of Art curator of contemporary art Gabriel Ritter stands beside a huge head of Frankenstein's monster on March 2, 2017. The piece usually hangs in director del Toro's home, named Bleak House.
Euan Kerr | MPR News

"Whatever it is, it's here to try and provoke sort of a shock to the system and get circulating the lifeblood of imagination, which I think is curiosity," he says in the video standing in his living room surrounded by objects.

You enter the show through a huge red arch, studded with reptilian eyes, which blink at you as you pass. That's when you meet the huge angel of death, from "Hellboy II," with wings spread wide.

"And all though it's covered up, the back is completely all servos," Ritter said of the contraption, "and all mechanical gears so the wings could move the eyes could brink and it was on screen."

The exhibit entrance is a huge arch with blinking eyes.
Visitors to "Guillermo del Toro: At home with monsters" at the Mia pass through a huge arch with blinking reptilian eyes, and confront an angel of death.
Euan Kerr | MPR News

The show also explores del Toro's obsessive collecting. The exhibit fills several galleries, and apparently there still much more back in California.

Del Toro grew up in Mexico and was bullied as a boy, Ritter said, and that's influenced his tastes in art.

"I think his interest the occult, in horror and science fiction has always been a place where he can escape from the world where fantasy kind of fuels his mind," Ritter said, "but also a place where he can find solace and really discover himself."

Blinking eye on the exhibit entrance
Blinking reptilian eyes line the archway of the exhibit entrance.
Euan Kerr | MPR News

Del Toro got into films young as a make-up artist. He quickly rose through the ranks and directed a stream of successful films, including "Chronos," "The Devil's Backbone," "Pacific Rim," and more recently "Crimson Peak."

Ritter likens del Toro's approach to collecting to the idea of the Victorian curiosity cabinet. People gathered oddities they just liked in one place for display. In some ways, those cabinets led to the birth of museums.

Film artifacts include Hell Boy’s leather coat and 'Big Baby' gun.
There are many artifacts from del Toro's films including Hell Boy's leather coat and "Big Baby" gun in the Mia show.
Euan Kerr | MPR News

"One sort of anecdote that I've heard is half of his salary from films that he creates goes back into not only this collection but also into physical props," Ritter said.

This weekend, Ritter said, del Toro will personally deliver some items he has only just purchased.

Among the items del Toro will deliver are some of his famous notebooks, page after page of his ideas and thoughts lavishly illustrated. They will be displayed under lock and key, but visitors can thumb through scanned pages on computer tablets.

Like the show, they are a remarkable amalgamation of cultural references, ranging from religious imagery to comic books, from literature to pulp fiction, from classic films to giant robots.

Four of del Toro's notebooks are included in the exhibit.
A highlight of "Guillermo del Toro: At home with monsters" at the MIA are the four notebooks which he carried with him at all times. Del Toro records thoughts, plans and sketches for his productions in them.
Euan Kerr | MPR News

It's all eminently creepy, and as a result, it's very hard to look away.

The del Toro show opens to the public Sunday in the same galleries that held the wildly successful Martin Luther exhibition. That fact isn't lost on Ritter, who only recently took this job in Minneapolis.

"I don't know how the scheduling for those two shows happened," he said, "but it really is a kind of 'what to do' and 'what not to do.' I like the two as kind of bookends for each other."

Ritter hopes visitors will leave with an understanding of del Toro's creative process and the huge variety of cultural references in his work.

"Hopefully it sparks interest and sparks curiosity in someone who has seen the show to kind of search out what really resonates with them," Ritter said.

Or, given this is Guillermo del Toro, something that just really creeps them out.

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