At age seven, Guillermo del Toro bought his first book — a collection of horror stories.
Today, the award-winning filmmaker — best known for his film, “Pan’s Labyrinth” — has a large enough collection that he can construct an entire exhibit centered around his horror memorabilia.
So he did.
“Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters,” opened Sunday at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It runs through May 28.
Inspiration for the exhibit came from del Toro’s own “glorified man cave” — the Dickens and Ackermansion inspired “Bleak House” in Los Angeles. A number of the house’s features have been incorporated into the exhibit, including a replica of del Toro’s “rain room” — an imaginarium that offers storms on demand whenever the need for bad-weather-based inspiration hits.
After stepping through the entryway covered in blinking eyes, exhibit patrons are greeted by del Toro’s “Angel of Death” from “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.” As it so happens, this signifier of the end is just the beginning.
The exhibit is divided into a number of themed rooms. Guests start in the “Childhood and Innocence” room — which includes a picture of young del Toro posed as a zombie attempting to eat his sister — and ends in the “Death and the Afterlife” room. An original score by Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla serves as accompaniment throughout the exhibit. Don’t worry, there are no jump scares.
Pieces from Mia’s own collection are dispersed throughout the exhibit. Curator Gabriel Ritter said seeing how del Toro chose these pieces to supplement his own served as an interesting curatorial exercise.
Francis Bacon’s “Study For Portrait VI,” which is a permanent part of the museum’s collection, is one piece that was chosen to be surrounded by del Toro’s oddities. There is no better way to view it.
Without distinction of high and low culture, the exhibit features these paintings next to costumes and props from del Toro’s films, vintage comics, original books and life-size models of some of the filmmaker’s real-life role models and movie monsters. You can say hello to H.P. Lovecraft and the Pale Man, but they won’t reply.
Del Toro himself attended the exhibit’s opening night party. However, his attendance was one of necessity and not just enjoyment. He needed to drop off a couple of last-minute items for the exhibit, including his notebooks that he insisted on hand-carrying to Minneapolis.
Over the course of the exhibit’s run, Mia is partnering with The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul to screen four of del Toro’s favorite films in 35mm. Three of del Toro’s own films will be screened, along with Boris Karloff’s 1931 version of “Frankenstein.” A whole room in the exhibit is dedicated to “Frankenstein and Horror,” complete with a humungous Frankenstein’s monster head taken straight from Bleak House’s foyer. Frankenstein, Ritter says, is del Toro’s spirit guide.
“I believe that we all are birthed with a certain quality of glass within us, and that we resonate with specific vibrations — notes — of the universe. The note I resonate with is low, dark, and full of monsters,” del Toro writes in his introduction to the exhibit’s accompanying catalogue. “Will you join us now?”
What: “Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters”
When: Now through May 28
Where: Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis
How much: $20