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Freak Baby Museum of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 16, 2010.  Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yamada

Freak Baby Museum of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 16, 2010. Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yamada

At last year’s Feast of San Gennaro, ATZ photographed quite a few Coney Islanders who’d decamped with their games, sideshows and food stands to top off the season in Little Italy. One of the strangest sights at this year’s feast, which runs through September 26th, is Dr. Takeshi Yamada and his freak baby museum from Coney Island. The Neptune Avenue resident, whose studio is known as the Museum of World Wonders, has quite a family: There’s a Two-headed Baby, Mermaid Baby, Octopus Baby, Lobster Baby, Penguin Baby, and Three-headed Baby. “His” is not just a figure of speech–the six rogue taxidermy infants are made from Yamada’s own skin!

Yamada, who has an MFA in fine art from the University of Michigan School of Art and was Grand Champion of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists in 2006, considers his artwork “specimens” rather than examples of self expression. He uses a variety of natural materials to create his curiosities including some that might be considered controversial.

When we wrote about the babies last year, readers inquired how the artist collected his skin. Yamada replied: “During summer months, I shed skins multiple times, and I carefully remove them from my body, save them, and preserve them as ‘specimens’ for my Cabinet of Curiosities. I mounted my own skin specimens on the super-realistic replicas of freak human babies, which I created. In this way their body surfaces look really real, [more] than ones replicated in other materials (rubber, plastic, fiberglass, clay etc.). In loose terms, my freak babies are my clones.”

Yamada’s full explanation, titled “Creatures as Art Supplies,” can be read in the comments section of a post written last year, “Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities.” It remains one of ATZ’s top 25 posts, thanks to curiosity about such curiosities as a mummified six-fingered witch’s hand and a three-eyed human skull. The free exhibition of oddities and rogue taxidermy artwork is currently in its fifth year at the Mermaid Avenue library, a six-minute walk from Stillwell Terminal. But if you want to see the freak babies, head over to San Gennaro or pay a visit to the nursery at Coney Island’s Museum of World Wonders.

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