One of a Kind Mindfield and Master Barber Shop and Menagerie MuseumAnthony Turner
334 West Main Street, Brownsville, Tennessee, 38012, United States
2018 to present
The Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 6pm or by appointment. To make an appointment, call (731) 326-0029. The suggested donation for admission is $5.
About the Artist/Site
In October 2018, master barber Anthony Turner received a divine message from God to transform the majority of the building where his barbershop is located into a cultural and educational space for the community of Brownsville, Tennessee. Deemed “The One Of A Kind Mindfield and Master Barber Shop Menagerie Museum,” the building serves as a testament to the generosity of Turner’s friends, customers, and other visitors as it is densely installed with photos, artwork, and ephemera he has received as gifts throughout the years. To highlight the largesse that resulted in this collection, Turner has labeled each item with the name of the donor.
One of the Museum’s primary functions is to serve as a landing place for visitors to Billy Tripp’s Mindfield Cemetery as well as a repository of archival materials, photographs, and other ephemera recognizing Tripp’s immense scrap metal environment rising directly behind the Museum. As you enter the building, you’re greeted by a bust of Tripp and a guestbook logging the thoughts of visitors to the Mindfield as well as images of the environment, including one large framed piece by art environment photographer and advocate Fred Scruton. The building that houses Turner’s Museum and barbershop is actually owned by Tripp and has been rented to the master barber for more than 20 years; Tripp and Turner are longtime friends and attended high school together.
Every space in the Museum including the ceiling and the floors is utilized and carefully curated by Turner. Instead of traditional museum labels, Turner provides information about the objects, instructions to visitors, and delivers inspirational messages on colorful pieces of construction paper that are laminated and hung from the ceiling on clear thread. (One such hanging directive says, “Take the time and read every sign. Enjoy your visit. Thanks, Anthony.”) Much of the messaging applied to the floors and ceilings is intentionally cryptic in its relationship to the objects around it. To encourage closer engagement with the materials, Turner instructs visitors to search for “three mysteries.” (If you identify the mysteries, your admission is free.)
As you circle the room on the carefully laid path, you eventually encounter a large installation of objects, books, signage, sculptures, photos, and artwork pertaining to African American life and culture. Images commemorating the Civil Rights Movement are positioned next to objects recognizing the ongoing struggle for racial equity faced by African Americans. One of these pieces is titled “Trayvon’s Last Supper” and sits Trayvon Martin (who was murdered in 2012) at a table with other victims of racially motivated attacks, including Fred Hampton and Emmett Till. This densely layered accumulation of interwoven historical and contemporary narratives effectively draws attention to the continued legacy of racism and racial injustice in the United States.
As you wind toward the exit, the last stop in the Museum is a small room that is entirely dedicated to southern musical icon Elvis Presley who lived about an hour south of Brownsville in Memphis, Tennessee. The glow of string lights, neon, and a small disco ball softens the crowded collection of posters, photos, records, and labels featuring trivia about Elvis. A true fan, the installation also includes photos of Turner mimicking Elvis’s trademark microphone stance.
Throughout the Museum, Turner is omnipresent as curator, artist, and docent. His integration with his collection culminates at the exit as you pass by his shop where, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the master barber at work. Turner’s preference is to let visitors experience the Museum on their own, but he is happy to discuss the collection (and reveal the three mysteries) once you’ve concluded your self-guided tour. The Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 6pm or by appointment. To make an appointment, call (731) 326-0029. The suggested donation for admission is $5.
gifted objects and ephemera
Map & Site Information
334 West Main Street
Brownsville, Tennessee, 38012 us
Latitude/Longitude: 35.5937159 / -89.2664132
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