That headline sounds like a setup for an amazing April Fool’s joke, but no, seriously. As we reported late last year, Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and the Slaight Family Foundation have put up a smooth four million Canadian dollars to establish the Allan Slaight Chair for the Study of the Conjuring Arts.
“As a society, it’s imperative that we understand when we are being deceived,” explained the University’s Interim President, Alastair Summerlee, via the National Post. “It’s also important to remember that magicians are among some of history’s greatest performers and influencers.”
“Whether it’s fake news or whether it’s politicians convincing people,” he continued, the program will integrate magic and psychologists to help students with “understanding something about the illusion that they created, how do they work?”
Whoever lands the job will end up working with students on a number of topics, including the history of magic, the nature of perception and the human psyche’s vulnerability to deceit. They’d also have to manage the University’s growing collection of magic-related literature and artifacts. Most notably; a copy of Miracle Mongers and Their Methods, signed by Harry Houdini himself.
Want to apply? Well, competition is already thick on the ground. The university’s Faculty of Arts and Social Science has already received applications from roughly eighty applicants from a variety of backgrounds. The successful applicant is expected to be announced this summer.
The position is named after Slaight Foundation founder, Allan Slaight, who was a professional magician in his youth before he entered the world of broadcasting. He still writes books on magic, contributes tricks to magic magazines and hosts the the annual magic conference, 31 Faces North.
The Magic Museum Lego set has received over 100 votes within 60 days, and as a result, has qualified for a year-long extension to reach the 10,000 votes required for approval. It’s currently sitting at 374 votes, though, so take a couple minutes to make an account, submit your vote, and share it around on social media for others to do the same..
LEGO is always releasing new sets of its iconic building bricks and minifigs (those are the little people), and they’re usually based on popular movie franchises like the Marvel superhero films or Star Wars. The company also opens up suggestions to the public, however, and if an idea gets enough support, LEGO puts it into production. That’s where you come in, because one of the ideas currently up for vote is a History of Magic Museum.
Look at how rad this thing is! A Chinese water torture cell! A Zig Zag Girl! I mean, come on, could this be any cooler? Here’s the description from the LEGO Ideas project page:
The goal of this set is to blend two creative arts together for an enriching, entertaining and educational experience.
Fans of LEGO brick-building will be introduced to the art of magic as they embark on a journey into the colourful world of conjuring & prestidigitation in the “History of Magic Museum”.
The “History of Magic Museum” is a historically accurate magic-themed three-storey building that highlights some of the greatest illusions and magicians in the history of magic.
It is highly detailed with numerous LEGO replicas of authentic magic & illusion props used by illusionists from the past to present day.
There are more than half a dozen play features and removable brick-built illusion displays.
The first floor will be the Chamber of Close-up & Stage Magic, the second floor will house a tribute to Houdini, and the top floor will feature the Hall of Illusions. The plans are remarkably detailed, including things like a portrait of Dai Vernon, and a hidden display case for a 1st Edition of “The Discoverie of Witchcraft”.
The bad news is that so far the Museum hasn’t garnered much support, with just 88 supporters, a fraction of what it needs to be approved by LEGO. The good news is that there’s still nearly two months to back it, so you still have time to voice your interest. Just head over to the LEGO project page, create a profile, answer a few questions about who you think this set would appeal to, and that’s it! It won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time. Let’s get this approved!
Making an object disappear and reappear before your eyes is one of the cornerstones of magic, whether through sleight of hand or optical illusion. If you find yourself with nothing to do today, spend an hour and watch this documentary from the BBC’s History of Magic series. It opens with the history of Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin, explores the origins of famous illusions like Pepper’s Ghost, and closes with an exploration of some of the biggest disappearing acts in television history.