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Fogo Island offers a corner of the world to the Museum of the Flat Earth

Kay Burns, the founder and artistic director for the Museum of the Flat Earth, said that she has always been drawn to concepts that are fun and playful but that also have deeper implications.
Kay Burns, the founder and artistic director for the Museum of the Flat Earth, said that she has always been drawn to concepts that are fun and playful but that also have deeper implications.

FOGO ISLAND, N.L.-Driving through the town of Seldom Come By, a sign welcomes tourists to visit the Museum of the Flat Earth.

Once inside, the truth is revealed: you have wandered, according to the Flat Earth Society of Canada, to an outpost at one of the corners of the world.

Kay Burns, the founder and artistic director of the museum, said the first reaction she gets is skepticism.

“The first question people will ask is, ‘Do you really believe the earth is flat?’” said Burns. “Often times, despite their initial skepticism, they begin to see it as having a very vital and important position in critical thinking.”

Burns explained that the museum, and the Flat Earth Society of Canada, was born out of an intellectual movement that finds its roots in critical thinking and exploration.

“It’s playful, it’s tongue in cheek, and it’s metaphorical,” she said.

The society was originally founded in 1970 by three professors from the University of New Brunswick. They stressed the importance of questioning knowledge that is taken for granted.

“In a way, the premise of the flat earth becomes a kind of metaphor for critical thinking,” said Burns.

She explained that, as an example, we are constantly told that the world is spherical without having first-hand experiences to support this fact.

“We look out and it looks flat. OK, so why do we accept it (as spherical) and not question it? This can of course be extrapolated to any information,” said Burns.

The Museum of the Flat Earth first opened last May and has grown to include research, maps and testimonials exploring critical thinking. The building also features a café that sells coffee, t-shirts and local art.

Burns, who is an artist by trade, said she was drawn to the society as a result of curiosity.

“I have a lifelong fascination with things that are quirky, eccentric and unusual. Things that have playful implications but also a deeper meaning.”

Burns isn’t the only one to have taken an interest in the Flat Earth Society of Canada.

The Flat Earth Society of Canada considers Fogo Island as one of the corners of the world. In 1971, Bartholomew Seeker (pictured) moved to the island to serve as a guardian of the corner. Many of his belongings are displayed in the museum.

Featured prominently in the museum is a picture of Bartholomew Seeker, the proclaimed guardian of Fogo Island’s corner.

Seeker acted as the guardian of the corner from 1971 until 1978, and his story is amongst the most fascinating in the museum.

Burn noted that many of the museum pieces were donated and collectively tell a greater story.

“It’s not just about surface,” she said.

 

Twitter: @joshrjhealey

josh.healey@ganderbeacon.ca

 

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