Flat Earth cul­ture

The Mu­seum of the Flat Earth is cel­e­brat­ing their first an­niver­sary on Fogo Is­land.

The Pilot - - Front Page - BY JOSH HEALEY Twitter: @joshrjhealey josh.healey@gan­der­bea­con.ca

Driv­ing through the com­mu­nity of Sel­dom Come By on Fogo Is­land, 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, 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, peo­ple 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, an artist by trade, was drawn to the so­ci­ety as a re­sult of cu­rios­ity.

“I have a life­long fas­ci­na­tion with things that are quirky, ec­cen­tric and un­usual,” she said. “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.

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.

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

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

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

JOSH HEALEY / THE BEA­CON

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

JOSH HEALEY / THE BEA­CON

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.

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