Seeing is believing for George McArthur.

Although the performance artist, who works under the name George the Giant, doesn't necessarily believe in the claims of the items that populate his Strange Museum of Oddities & Wonders, he knows you've got to decide for yourself.

"I don't believe in voodoo but I don't kick a voodoo priest in the shins either," he said. "Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it isn't true."

People can decide for themselves starting this week when his pop-up museum returns to its spot adjacent to the Fox Theater. 

McArthur was excited to return with his collection of unusual and mysterious items he has collected over the years.

"It still comes down to I do it because it's something I fell in love with," he said of the sideshow world. "And a museum was always part of the sideshow."

Some items will be back on display, such as Little Donnie, a ventriloquist figure who left quite an impression on his former owners as well as McArthur's friends.

"I think of Donnie as a mascot. A lot of people ask to see Donnie. ... I have one friend who loves taking pictures and sending it to his kid."

(Suffice it to say, his friend's son is not one of Donnie's many fans.)

Up to 20 percent of the items on display are new, McArthur said. One addition is to his "ego section," which displays items from McArthur's career, which included a role in the 2003 Tim Burton film "Big Fish" and his appearance on season three of "America's Got Talent," where he showcased his sideshow skills. Going into the collection is a copy of The Californian from last year on which he appeared on the front page. 

"To get into the newspaper, I've finally been loved by my people in Bakersfield," he said.

He also has new artwork, including impossible bottles such as a whiskey bottle with a full deck of cards with a bolt inside of it.

Those display "a lot of time and effort and skill that I don't have," he said.

Of course, the biggest addition is the true crime section, which will only be on display during private guided tours offered Thursdays and late night on Friday and Saturdays.

"I picked up a lot of exhibit pieces. I had a lot of people ask for true crime artwork and artifacts."

He said he has items related to those individuals that people "make Netflix specials about" ("It's the politest way I can say 'serial killer'").

There are more than 10 items, letters and drawings from individuals that would be considered noteworthy for their notorious acts. That includes items concerning Steven Avery, who was the subject of Netflix's "Making a Murderer"; Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker; and Charles Manson, who died in Bakersfield in 2017.

McArthur wanted to keep that section separate from the rest of the collection because he wants it to remain more inclusive for families.

"I believe my museum is for all ages, it's just weird and strange things."

The guided tours are limited to 20 people but the rest of the museum's run is open to the general public. Addressing a problem with wait times from last year, McArthur has reorganized the layout to help crowd flow through and allow guests to be able read the materials accompanying the items. 

McArthur doesn't anticipate wait times to be cumbersome but just in case he has also enlisted performers, ranging from juggling, hula hooping and fire eating, to entertain those in line.

"I don't want them to stand in line and just be bored."

Guests can also check out gift baskets, with items including a two-headed duck, real body bag and taxidermic bats that they can win. Tickets are $1 each or 25 for $20; winners will be drawn on the last night of the event.

"It's a lot of weird and strange things because that's what I like."

This year a portion of proceeds will benefit the Bakersfield Burrito Project, which has been helping feed the homeless since 2009.

McArthur said, "A lot of things have happened with the project," including the death of co-founder Jason Rickett earlier this year. "I want to make sure it continues. ... They help wherever they can. I've had a lot of people help me in my time of need and I want to make sure they have it."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.