SATIRE: Halloween night at the museum

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MASON MARON

Once the lights go out and the doors are locked on Halloween night at the Conner Museum, anything could happen — but the truth is stranger than fiction.

MASON MARON

The Conner Museum, a permanent feature of Abelson Hall’s first floor, has been part of WSU’s history since 1894. It has hundreds of displays with thousands of animal specimens from all over the world.

Some of the displays remain untouched and unchanged from the very first day they were designed — except, of course, when all the animals have to be put back into place after Halloween night, so nobody knows they have escaped again.

MASON MARON

For as long as the Conner Museum has existed, the specimens have always been found scattered about, in utter disarray, by the first people to come in on the morning of Nov. 1.

Originally, the museum’s founder, Charles R. Conner, believed this was due to drunk college students breaking in and making a mess on Halloween night. However, this all changed on Oct. 31, 1952.

Jonathan Weiss, a graduate student studying the diets of Rosy-finches, was working late on Halloween night. It took him longer than expected to finish labeling all his collection vials, but he did not mind  he had nowhere better to be.

At around 9 p.m., he said his goodbyes as the last of the other researchers headed home for the night; that would be the last time anyone saw him alive.

MASON MARON

Nobody quite knows what happened that night, after everyone else left. What they do know is that, when they walked in the next morning, the museum was a complete mess (as usual).  

They also know that, as they began to return the specimens to their proper spots, they found the body of Jonathan Weiss behind a display case, stuffed, preserved and posed with an expression of fear locked into his face.

Ever since that day, nobody is allowed to stay in the museum after-hours on Halloween night. Security cameras were installed, but the feed always cuts at exactly 9 p.m., so nothing new can be learned.

New undergraduate researchers are just taught two simple rules: leave before 9 p.m. on Oct. 31 and be back by 9 a.m. the next day to help clean up.